Cherie Priest’s first Clockwork Century novel, Boneshaker (Tor, 2009) won the 2010 Locus Award for Best SF Novel and was nominated for both the Nebula and the Hugo. If you are looking for a review, check out this one by Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing.
Today’s book, Dreadnought, is the second novel in her steampunk Clockwork Century universe, the sequel to Boneshaker.
To learn more about steampunk, check out this article by Heather Campbell, published right here on SLJ in December 2010. It includes lists of recommended reads for every age, fiction and nonfiction.
I cannot resist sharing one more resource: the video of a steampunk author panel from the SLJ/LJ Day of Dialog at BookExpo 2010, including Cherie Priest, Scott Westerfeld, and Cory Doctorow. All of the authors are terribly well-spoken, and Scott Westerfeld in particular gives an insightful, brief talk explaining the genre.
Adult/High School–Boneshaker (Tor, 2009), the award-winning first volume of Priest’s trilogy, introduced readers (including plenty of teen fans) to an alternate 19th century in which the Civil War has lasted for more than 20 years and in which a machine run amok unleashed a yellow gas that transformed people into zombies. Dreadnought is more thoughtful than Boneshaker, with lots of meditation about war and class, but the action (which begins almost halfway though) is pulse-pounding and vivid (plenty of shoot ‘em up scenes, carnage, and nail-biting tension). Main character Mercy initially seems unappealing and distant–she’s a Civil War nurse and a widow, and holds herself distant from almost everyone–but her youth and her cross-country journey to find a father she barely remembers (a character first met in Boneshaker) and the mystery she finds and begins to solve along the way (which readers will already have solved as it concerns zombies beginning to appear east of Seattle) will win over any readers who persevere through the slow start. The pacing is uneven and the ending feels a bit phoned in (especially the arrival in Seattle and introductions to the cast of volume one), but those who read the first book will definitely want this one. This is more sophisticated and less sexy than the recent rash of YA zombie books–the rotters are genuinely scary and survival is far from certain. Invest in the series.– Karyn N. Silverman, LREI (Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School), New York City