From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, comes an unforgettable edge-of-your-seat mystery that is at once heartbreakingly tender and morally courageous about what it means to be human.
Very well crafted storytelling, but overall, not my cup of tea. I thought I would give my input to whose cup of tea it might be. One - teenagers. Two - those who like the realism genre of literature (yes, I know, but hear me out).
Many other reviews questioned that this is a YA story, and I am not sure why. Maybe they think Percy Jackson belongs on AudibleKids, but not Twilight? This story is perfect for teenagers because so much of it focuses on those years, with PAINFUL (for me) detail of feelings and subtleties of character interaction. But isn't that what teenagers do? They are trying to figure each other out, but real teenagers are not as skilled at it as this main character is, but she is an adult looking back, so there's that.
Only one reviewer complained about the nonlinear storytelling ("at the time I thought this, but later I realized because of what happened here, which is: blah blah") but that was the only aspect that I really enjoyed, and the only thing I can say is earning such rave reveiws. The author really is weaving a tale.
The other type of person who would enjoy this story is one who likes literary realism. Now I realize that statement doesn't make sense because the key plot point of this novel is definitely NOT REAL, but let me explain. To me, realism is finding beauty in the mundane. Those who are giving this book such low reviews look to escape the mundane of real life with romanticized notions of living, stylized writing or at least medium-paced action (plot!). I think this story is very realistic, at least for upper middle-class or Brittish boarding school, of teenage life. So, the beauty lies in the STARK CONTRAST between the realism of this story against the very slight sci-fi (not real) aspect. I think only fans of realism would feel it.
But I am not. I only like Jane Austen because I do NOT live in that place or that time. So maybe I just need another 200 years to really appreciate this story...
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It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. The Leviathan is a living airship, the most formidable airbeast in the skies of Europe.
Most of the reviews talk about how outstanding the story is, and I agree wholeheartedly. I didn't know about the steampunk genre when I picked this up, and it is an excellent introduction. And I want to say that the last I learned about WWI was in ninth grade (more than 15 years ago) but I still knew what was historical fact and what was made up.
But I thought proper tribute needed to be made to Alan Cumming, the narrator. For the most part I use audiobooks as a way to pass the time. I work with words, so I prefer to see them. But this story was significantly enhanced by having it read to me by a European man. I hate to admit it, but it is because I am from the United States and not well traveled - that's why I love books. I don't know how accurately Cumming is doing these different accents (Austrian, various Brittish and I can only assume that Russian will come later) but they are a hella lot better than I could do them on my own head if I were reading the novel. He even gets the differences between the common Brittsh and "posh" Brittish.
I will say this about the author's work. As I said, I work with words myself, so I find the slang of the mid-shipman protagonist highly entertaining. Is that true Brittish slang of the time or did the author make that up as well? I don't know, but I love it. "Barking spiders!" and a "rattled attic," all without uttering what we would consider profanity today, which we all know sailors are prone to doing.
Two masters of their craft come together to create a truely imaginative work. HIGHLY recommended.
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