Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
(from the back of the book)
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 subterranen vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead. Now it is sixteen 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 teenage 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.
More of a zombie book than I expected. I thought it would be more about Zeke’s quest inside the city but it was more running for your life than anything else. Which is fine. I like zombie books, but it wasn’t what I expected. The apathy that Briar, the heroine (?) of the piece, seems to have towards many things is exactly how I feel about her. I’m rather indifferent to her and her plight. It’s entertaining enough in a fight for survival sort of way but there aren’t many surprises or twists really. There are holes too. Not huge holes but nagging sort of things that aren’t really explained or where the explanation wasn’t really convincing. Why are there people still in the city, how did the doctor get so powerful, after 15 years of being picked off and having nothing to sustain them why are there so many ‘rotters’ left, nothing you can’t suspend belief around but slightly nagging just the same. It all builds to a climax in a battle against the ‘rotters’ and the doctor which was harrowing and liberating and would have made a good ending, only it wasn’t the end. It goes on for a little bit more where Briar gets to make her big revelation which didn’t do anything to change my feelings of apathy for her and I’m not sure what the reader is supposed to make of it. It was just thrown out there and fell flat for me. I liked the action/adventure aspects, the zombies and sky pirates, the Blight and mad scientists. But Briar’s story? I didn’t care much about that. So the book left me split. I liked it, and I didn’t.