In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice.
Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born. But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.
Now it is 16 years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history. His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.
©2009 Cherie Priest (P)2010 Macmillan Audio
"Intelligent, exceptionally well written and showcasing a phenomenal strong female protagonist who embodies the complexities inherent in motherhood, this yarn is a must-read for the discerning steampunk fan." (Publishers Weekly)
Briar Wilkes is the widow of a mad man and great inventor, the late Dr. Blue. She and her teenage son, Ezekiel, must live with the everlasting shame of the horrible disaster Dr. Blue’s mining engine (Boneshaker) caused to downtown Seattle. Blight gas was released all those years ago, turning hundreds of people into the walking dead before that section of the city could be walled off. But now Ezekiel, on the cusp of manhood, goes in search of answers and Briar is hot on his heels. Set in the 1860s Pacific Northwest, this alternate steampunk history will keep you glued to the story.
This was my first Cherie Priest book but will not be my last. The story opens by dropping us into Briar’s life and we pick up the history as we go along. Briar has secrets and lots of folks want to know if her husband, Dr. Blue, is truly dead, including her son. Hence, Ezekiel heads off on his own to find some answers. Of course, this means going into the walled off, deadly gas zone. The folks outside the wall have so many stories about those stuck on the inside, but Ezekiel and his mom are about find out the truth of the matter.
And that is when it gets really interesting. The folks inside are rotting slowly. And there are those who have gone completely zombie. But for the most part, there is still a society of folks trying to scrape by living in underground Seattle. There’s all sorts of requirements to staying save, taking in as little gas as possible, so it’s complicated. It was fascinating to see how this society worked, and the response to Dr. Blue’s widow.
Eventually, Briar has to make a tough trade with guy who runs the underground gas zone. Plus she then has to decide whether or not to tell her son the truth. It was so intense! Toss in some airships, a few crazy weapons, a few handicap folks with mechanical bits, and you have a great story.
The Narration: Wil Wheaton and Kate Reading did a great job. Most of the story is told through Briar’s eyes, so we hear more of Reading. Wheaton was awesome as a confused, somewhat angry teenager. Both had distinct voices for both female and male characters.
Fun Entertaining Predictable
Well paced, good character development (as far as it went)
None stand out to me but the atmosphere throughout was excellent.
Nope - but I did enjoy the story.
A good introduction to the steampunk genre. The story is a good one but to me it had a bit of a juvenile fiction feel. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the book and will probably listen to it again. I did leave the book wanting to know more about the fate of the characters but not quite enough for me to follow up and purchase the next book (yet).
Science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction...take me away!
I picked this title because I like the narrators, then I discovered it took place in Seattle and had a strong woman protagonist so I jumped in.
Good enough story about a Seattle ruined in a freak or not-so-freak accident and a mother's journey to rescue her curious son in a hostile environment. I'm not a zombie fan, but these weren't too distressing.
I doubt it, maybe if it were free
I was really disappointed. I really am a huge fan of Wil Wheaton and I expected so much more!
I hated it all. It was a dystopic, zombie, frontier, steampunk story without the clothes, romance and fun of a steampunk story.
The female narrator put me to sleep a few times, not a good thing when driving! But as I got into the story, that was no longer a problem...
A plot that was half-way interesting. There were lots of hints about alternate history and other good stuff, but they were all ignored in favor of a "oh we are trapped in a city full of Zombies".
The gaping holes in the plot were also annoying, as was attitude of the 15 year-old brat who was one of the central characters.
I do not understand how this won the prizes that it did. I guess that some people will vote for anything labeled "Steampunk", even if that is only about 1% of the story.
No. Their performances were just fine, though. If only the story was worth performing.
Not really, it was the first one in a long time that I did not bother to finish.
Checking out Brandon Sanderson's work
The book is an okay read. The context of a gas resulting from a drilling machine punching a whole in an inactive volcano allowing a gas to come up that either kills those affected or turns them into zombie types is sort of hard to believe. If you suspend your believe, the story is interesting. The characters are pretty well developed. The story is a little weak in its development. The main protagonist could be the husband of the lead character or an impostor - but the problem here is that after ten years, what difference did it make.
The reader is great. Does a good job acting out the various parts and makes an okay book a good listen.
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