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Boneshaker (Sci Fi Essential Books) [Paperback]

Cherie Priest
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Sep 2009 Sci Fi Essential Books (Book 1)
Cherie Priest s long awaited steampunk debut At the start of the Civil War, a Russian mining company commissions a great machine to pave the way from Seattle to Alaska and speed up the gold rush that is beating a path to the frozen north. Inventor Leviticus Blue creates the machine, but on its first test run it malfunctions, decimating Seattle s banking district and uncovering a vein of Blight Gas that turns everyone who breathes it into the living dead. Sixteen years later Briar, Blue s widow, lives in the poor neighborhood outside the wall that s been built around the uninhabitable city. Life is tough with a ruined reputation, but she and her teenage son Ezekiel are surviving until Zeke impetuously decides that he must reclaim his father s name from the clutches of history.

Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Original edition (10 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765318415
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765318411
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 16 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"I suspect the majority of readers will be hooked by the first of Priest's Clockwork Century series." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Cherie Priest's "Boneshaker" was nominated for a Nebula and Hugo Award, won the Locus Award for best science-fiction novel, and was named Steampunk Book of the Year by She is also the author of "Dreadnought," "Boneshaker"'s sequel, and of the near-contemporary fantasy "Fathom." She debuted to great acclaim with "Four and Twenty Blackbirds," "Wings to the Kingdom," and "Not Flesh Nor Feathers," a trilogy of Southern Gothic ghost stories featuring heroine Eden Moore. Born in Tampa, Florida, Priest earned her master's in rhetoric at the University of Tennessee. She lives in Seattle, Washington, with her husband, Aric, and a fat black cat named Spain.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Steampunk and Zombies 6 Nov 2012
If I'm being one hundred percent honest, I have to hold up my hands and say initially, I found Boneshaker by Cherie Priest a difficult book to read. Now before all you Priest fans form a steam-powered lynch mob and head toward my house with burning torches, let me take a moment to explain and hopefully this will calm your anger.

This situation doesn't happen often, in fact I can remember exactly the last time this issue did occur. When I started reading Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, I often had to read pages four or five times before I understood what was going on. (That admission is made all the more embarrassing by the fact I'm Scottish, but I digress.)

I stress that the fault is most definitely with the reader, in both cases, not the writer. Like Welsh, Priest has written something that delivers on many levels but in order to get the most from the story, the reader must allow the novel to command their full attention.

Once I had the opportunity to sit down and properly concentrate on the novel, I was blown away by how gripping it was. Over the last couple of years I have read a fair amount of `steampunk' and I enjoy the genre, it always seems to offer endless possibilities. Boneshaker is a fantastic example and very effectively captures the pioneering spirit of America in the 19th century. I have to admit I was also pleased that there were zombies or in this case rotters thrown into the mix as well.

Set fifteen years after a man-made disaster, Seattle has become a no go area surrounded by a huge wall. The city has suffered at the hands of the Boneshaker, a huge drill that destroyed buildings and released a toxic Blight upon the unsuspecting citizenry. This deadly gas kills and then re-animates those that suffer prolonged exposure.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All Steam and No Punk 25 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Surprisingly, the detailed blurb for this book doesn't give much away. Most of that background info is crammed into the first couple of pages. It is presented as an extract from a historical novel, which one of the characters is writing.

This character, Hale Quarter, is one of the first people we come across in chapter one. We see the world from a mixture of his and Briar's point-of-view. Then, Quarter disappears, and doesn't reappear again in the novel. Not a particularly smooth introduction to the story.

The novel is structured with two dominant view points: Briar and Zeke. Each have their own chapters. Briar's chapters are illustrated with a pair of goggles at the beginning, and Zeke's chapters with a gas lamp. A nice touch.

I felt Priest painted Briar's character quite well. Her history, her flaws, made her more human. However, she boarded on the stereotypical 'mother who will stop at nothing' to save her child.

Zeke, on the other hand, was an incredibly annoying character. He is meant to be an older teenager, but acts more like a ten or eleven year old. He lacks a sense of maturity, and his thoughts are simple. Often, he comes across as rather dumb, and I felt almost completely unsympathetic towards him.

Whereas Briar has a much more active stance in moving the plot forward, Zeke is lead around by others, making him passive and quite boring.

All four-hundred pages of the book take place within a few days. And this slow pace often takes its toll. The action scenes are well executed and exciting, but the spaces between them are often bogged down with unnecessary description, bantering, and time-fillers. It seems to me that there is no real control over the contours of action and suspense.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 4 April 2014
I bought this book some while back and it has been sitting on my TBR pile for quite some time. Deciding that I wanted to put my feet up with something entertaining and enjoyable I decided to give this a go. Ultimately though I found this was just an okay book, the kind of thing that you may read over a weekend and then promptly forget about as you dump it in the bag for the charity shop.

I thought that there would be more action in places than there really was and this just really turned into a story of a mother looking for her son who had gone into the walled city mentioned in the blurb on the back cover. Obviously this is an alternative history novel and Seattle has been changed to write this, and I had no problem with that, it is just that this seemed rather clichéd and similar to many another tale, although not as good as some.

So on the whole if you are looking for just some average escapism then this will fit the bill, but if you are looking for something that will make you sit up and want to tell others about the great book you have just read, then this isn't it. There are much better Steampunk books on the market, but by the same token, there are also much worse.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steampunk Zombie Glory 31 Oct 2009
After enjoying Four and Twenty Blackbirds, I've been meaning to read more of Cherie Priest's work but my reading pile has simply been to large and diverse to come back. However, when Boneshaker came out, I simply had to get it and bump it up on top of the pile. I have no regrets doing so.

Determined to clear his father's name, Zeke runs away from home and finds a way into the city. His worried mother soon follows him and the narrative switches back and forth between them and their desperate struggle to find what they are looking for. They make friends and enemies alike until they are finally confronted with the the ruler of the inner city who might hold all the answers...

There have been few books in recent years that have captivated me as much as Boneshaker, it is simply unputdownable. The plot chucks along nicely, constantly little bits of the background are revealed but never too much so the reader is always left guessing at the truth until it is finally revealed in the end.
The setting isn't classic steampunk in that it isn't Victorian England or the Empire but it has all the elements. Belching furnaces, wonderful and horrible machines and gadets made from brass and wood, dirigibles and airships and of course goggles in all kinds of shapes and sizes, creating an interesting world away from the stereotype. Also unlike the stereotype it is a dark and depressing world, everyone is fighting for survival or making ends meet.
Both plot and characters are very well written and vividly described so it's easy for the reader's mental eye to imagine what's going on.

Well done Cherie, I can't wait for the next book in this universe.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Pity about the zombies
A very clever and imaginative. plot. A shame the author decided to throw in zombies. Surely insane cannibals would work.
Published 1 month ago by Olive Breadmaker
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing...
I had hoped for much, this being my first stab at steampunk, but was not tempted to buy after reading the sample. Read more
Published 7 months ago by dragonara
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent light read
A good light read perfect for a long journey or holiday. Very obvious Steampunk references but found those to be a little cluttered and without much purpose to story.
Published 8 months ago by claire
5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual Victorian/Wild West adventure
I had never come across Steam punk before until a friend gave me this. It's a real adventure story and I thoroughly enjoyed it and have downloaded some more books by the same... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jax
5.0 out of 5 stars Review - Boneshaker by Cherie Priest - 5/5 stars
Review - Boneshaker by Cherie Priest - 5/5 stars

I received this book as a gift. I wanted to try a bit of steampunk again, and this was happily waiting on my... Read more
Published 11 months ago by super antpod
3.0 out of 5 stars Failed to live up to its initial promise
I thought that this novel started strongly. However, the characters seemed to behave inconsistently at times, e.g. the usually strong Briar occasionally appearing helpless. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Bean counter
5.0 out of 5 stars I probably don't need to say this
After a dozen e-books of dubious quality it is so refreshing to read a story by someone who actually knows how to write.

Brilliant. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Adaddinsane
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I usually read 2 to 3 books per week cos I hate the real world on TV and films just arnt in depth enough. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much more
I have to say although an interesting idea, the book read a little younger than expected, plus I found Zeke to be infuriatingly obstinate. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mr.K
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Really liked this book. It reminded me a bit of Metro 2033. I've already bought the second in the series.
Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
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