Review originally posted here
.Why I Read It:
I've been plowing through this series for the past couple of weeks, so of course I had to read this latest installment. Spoiler-free review ahead.
This series is so addicting and so so fun. It features a strong heroine and a rollicking adventure -- common elements threading this series together -- but it's different enough from its predecessors to stand on its own and it's a formula that works really well (though I hesitate to word it quite like that because 'formulaic' entails some negative connotations that I wouldn't attribute to this book, or series as a whole.)
This book features Andan Cly, who was initially introduced in Boneshaker
, as a main character as well as his lost love, Josephine Early. I liked Cly since he was first introduced, so I was excited that he got a whole novel dedicated to him and his air-pirate shenanigans (well, he's trying to give up that life, but his adventure in this book is kind of like his last hurrah.) Josephine was an equally compelling heroine, even though she hadn't had any page-time in previous books. She's like Briar Wilkes in a lot of ways -- she's strong-willed, stubborn, independent and tough as old leather -- but she's still very much her own person and I would never confuse the two. Josephine was almost all the traits I just mentioned, but amplified because of her situation (being a coloured and independent woman.)
There is a bit of romance in the novel, but it's really downplayed and is between Andan and Briar, not Andan and Josephine, despite having had a relationship about a decade before. The relationship between Andan and Josephine was really well executed. They never get back together and there's never any question if they will or won't, which I appreciated; these characters are grown adults and they act like it, and while meeting again after so long is initially awkward for them, they behave maturely and like people their age.
The adventure itself, navigating the Ganymede (which is a submarine), was a lot of fun and takes up a good chunk of the final third of the novel. I really enjoyed reading it, and while I had no doubt that the characters would make it through, that didn't lessen the excitement. Save for this book, I've yet to read a novel set in a submarine, so that was a fun change of pace.
As for the alternative history elements, I'm not at all familiar with the Civil War (I know I should be, but eh, I'm Canadian), let alone the nitty gritty details, so even when things deviated a lot from the truth, I could never tell. Priest does provide an awesome afterword though that details aspects of the story that were based on history and how they deviated from history. It also provided some insight into Ruthie's character (which I won't go into detail here because of spoilers, but I initially found a revelation about her character to be shoe-horned into the plot, despite the good intentions; the afterword assuaged my reservations about it though.)Final Verdict:
This was another fun installment in the Clockwork Century series. It features a similar blend of Strong Heroine and Rollicking Adventure that I've come to associate these books with, but it always uses these elements in different enough ways that it never feels repetitive. I liked seeing Andan Cly get his own book, and his relationship with Josephine was well executed; they have awesome banter and clearly still respect one another, but it never treads romantic territory, which I liked. The adventure in the submarine Ganymede was a ton of fun to read as well. I can't wait for The Inexplicables
to come out this November.