Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Boneshaker review

Get ready for a gusher! Yep, this is going to be one of those gushing reviews, where I insist you immediately go out and buy/order/borrow the described book. Like now. You've been warned.

Our heroine, Natalie, lives in Arcane, Missouri, where odd stories of past happenings are told like bedtime stories. Her mother, who can hardly seem to get out of bed anymore, used to fill Natalie's head with the tales and always made them seem magical. When Dr. Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show comes into town with strange machines and even stranger people, Natalie knows that something big is about to happen in little Arcane.

See, Natalie loves machines, especially the automata she builds with her father. But, when these unexplainable machines roll into town with the fair, along with claims of potions that heal any disease or ailment, she doesn't understand how they could possibly work...either the machines or the potions. Something is not right and Natalie, along with a few friends, is determined to figure it out in order to save her family and her town.

I've never quite come across a book like this one. Steampunk has not yet infiltrated my reading life, as it has so many of yours, but I fell in love with Kate Milford's writing and the fantastic illustrations done by Andrea Offermann. We are given a strong, yet unconfident heroine, which makes her completely realistic in this land of historical fantasy, as well as a story, unlike any other. Old town life is mixed with strange machines, a love of family and community, and (of course) some demons. Gotta love it!

Offermann's illustrations, though few, left me awestruck. I stared at each page for several minutes, scrutinizing the drawings and hoping to find hidden story clues. Milford is incredibly talented, both at engaging a reader through her words and through her drawings. Very impressive.

I did find myself having to read carefully, as there are a lot of characters to keep straight, as well as a lot of big concepts. At times, it made for some heavy reading, but I loved made me think. That being said, the book (according to Amazon and Booklist) is marketed towards middle graders (5th-8th), but I feel it would much better suited for young adults. Some of your more advanced middle grade readers will easily get through it, but the complexity of the story may go over the heads of some younger ones.  

The mystery within the story is very well done and message of believing in one's self comes out without being thrown in your face. I absolutely loved this one.

Overall rating: 5 out of 5

The Boneshaker
Kate Milford
384 pages
Clarion Books
May 2010
Review copy received from publisher

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a small percentage of the purchase price. Thanks!


Jeane said...

I've never read any steampunk. Your enthusiasm is tempting me to try something.

Shelly B said...

Have heard alot about this one and you've never steered me wrong, so it's going on my list TBR.

TheGloop said...

So it looks like after I finish reading Boneshaker (Cherie Priest) I'm going to have to read The Boneshaker (Kate Milford). Ya know, they could at least TRY to come up with some different titles.

Susan said...

I haven't ventured into Steampunk yet either, but this review convinced me to give it a try. I'll be on the lookout for this one! Thanks, as always, for the great recommendation.

Susan said...

I haven't ventured into Steampunk yet either, but this review convinced me to give it a try. I'll be on the lookout for this one! Thanks, as always, for the great recommendation.

Sarah said...

Wonderful review Amanda! I must say, when you are enthusiastic about a book my interest in it triples!

Kate said...

Thanks for the beautiful review, Amanda! I have to 'fess up that I am not responsible for the illustrations, though. A wonderful woman named Andrea Offermann is the genius behind those. Sadly, the limit of my artistic capability is drawing stick figures.

Happy Fourth!

Amanda said...

I'm glad so many of you are going to seek this one out, it's definitely worth your time!

Kate, thanks for stopping by and thanks for the heads up on the illustrator. I'll get that changed right away!