BOOK: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest.

I actually finished this book over Christmas, but I’m behind on EVERYTHING here, so let’s pretend it only seems like it’s January.   It only seems that way.  It’s actually about December 26th.   Tomorrow is December 27th.  A few days from now it will be January 1, 2010 and I will finally post my “Tops of 2009” lists for you.  But for now, it’s only the 26th and I have a great book to tell you about.  Settle in and read up.

This book was given to me as a birthday present from a good friend of mine who works in a bookstore and recommends all kinds of awesome stuff to me whenever I see him.  He’ll undoubtedly be pleased to note, for example, that two of the best books I read in 2009 are ones he passed along to me.  (Thanks, Steve!)  But even better in terms of this particular gift,  he got my copy of Boneshaker signed by Cherie Priest herself!  Every couple of chapters, I would turn back to the front page and look at her signature and marvel at the fact this woman exists in the real world.  A person with this kind of imagination.  But she is, look!  She signed my book!  Someone met her!  She wrote a note to me in my book!  It’s kind of amazing.  Oh, to have that kind of creativity and brain.  I wish, I wish, I wish.

This story is set in the mid-1800’s in Seattle, but it tells the tale of a very different Seattle from the one we all know and love.  (Hate.  Love.  Mostly hate.  STILL RAINING, GAH!) The tale begins as Seattle is expanding into a real boomtown, people coming in from all over to strike it rich in gold.  One resident, an inventor named Leviticus Blue, has come up with a machine he thinks is going to revolutionize the industry — finally a machine that will allow miners to break through the ice in Alaska and get to the massive stores of gold hiding behind them.  Only something goes awry and the machine is unleashed on the city of Seattle instead, where it not only tears up the town, but also releases a toxic gas that begins to kill– and then bring back to life, zombie-style — all those who come in contact with it.

Flash forward a few years, and the city of Seattle has now been walled off to contain both the toxic “blight”  and the scary undead residents who creep around the streets, insatiably hungry for human flesh.  Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes, lives just outside the walls with her son Zeke, who struggles daily with the stigma attached to being the son of the man who destroyed Seattle.   Throw into the mix a complicated history with Briar’s father — thought by some to be a hero and others to be a criminal — and life for the teenaged Zeke is only getting harder.

His solution?  To go under the wall and into the city of Seattle to try to find the truth about his family.  To survive the blight and the zombies and make his way to the facts about Leviticus Blue and his grandfather.  Only as soon as his mother realizes what he’ s done, and that the way he got in can no longer be the way he comes out (a tunnel the next day crushed by an earthquake), she immediately makes plans to find a way into the city herself to try to find him before it’s too late.

Desperate to stay alive, each Wilkes ends up teaming up with survivors inside the walls, trying to make their way to each other and back to safety.   And that’s where the real fun for the reader begins.  You’ve got ravenous undead, criminal overlords and gangs, air pirates, drug addicts,  and heavily armed, extremely cranky refugees to work with.  Who do you trust?  And if you trust no one, how are you going to make it out alive?

If you’re a fan of A) zombie stories or B) science fiction in general, I think you’re going to have a great time reading this novel.  I myself can’t wait to find out what else Priest has written and start loading up my nightstand with her paperbacks.  Hope they make this one into a movie.  Man, it could be a GREAT movie if someone did it right, too.  Someone do it right?  Please?  For me.  Much obliged.  Amen.


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6 Responses to “BOOK: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest.”

  1. Liz Says:

    Wow! No wonder you loved this book. Zombies and Science Fiction! I may read it myself! And I agree – it does sound like it would make an awesome movie. But, “if someone did it right” is the key issue!

  2. Haidee Says:

    *sigh* hey hardly ever do it right. But then, the only thing better than a good zombie movie, is a bad zombie movie. Sars Wars anyone?

    I haven’t read this one yet, but I’m popping down to my library to see if they have it on Monday. Thanks Meg

  3. Jake Kerr Says:

    I appreciate that opinions can certainly differ, but this book was absolutely dreadful. One of the worst books of the last few years that I’ve read. The primary characters are cold, the story is overwrought, and, to be honest here, just downright boring for most of the book.

    The middle section, where we start to get a glimpse of the antagonist, is not too bad, but it hopelessly falls back into flatness shortly after that.

    I think the biggest problem is that the characters are almost all wooden and shallow. They don’t grow. Their pain is delivered in broad strokes, and in such an environment nearly all of them come across as just not likable. Even the villain is kind of lame.

    Finally, the essence of the whole story is propped up on a very rickety framework–why would anyone in their right mind live in the place? This is described and explained a bit, but not with any real depth or emotion attached to it.

    My friends picked this for our book club, and out of the five of us, only two of us could finish it, and we each hated it.

  4. Meg Says:

    What kind of crazy person picks this book as a book club selection? I mean, you couldn’t tell from the cover it was meant to be entertaining crap, not great literature?

    • Quinn Says:

      Actually, I’m a member of Jake’s book club. We choose whatever the group is interested in, not just “literature”. We are comprised of three writers (two published) and an editor. We had very high hopes, given the amazing elements the story contains, but for whatever reason, it did not resonate with any of us. That being said, your blog is great and not every story works for every reader. I think it’s wonderful that, having enjoyed it as much as you did, you put your opinion out there to the world. Any writer would be thrilled to receive such glowing praise of their work.

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