My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Bookshelves: steampunk, alternate-history, fictional-history, heroine-kicking-ass, world-war-i, ya
A fun find! Scott Westerfeld gives good story, and the illustrations by Keith Thompson are delightful. The fictional history is just right, following the fate of the imaginary son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie after the assassination that sparked World War I. The focus here is on the technological discipline of the great powers, rather than political intricacies. Here the Allied Powers are essentially the Darwinists (those who monkey with DNA to create fabulous new lifeforms, such as a living-whale airship) and the Central Powers are the Clankers (those who make fantastic war machinery, akin to the huge Star Wars AT-AT landwalkers). It’s YA but not too much so for adults to enjoy, much like the early Harry Potter books. Fast-paced plot with deft writing, loaded with steampunk inventions, original characterizations, and an ending that sets up the sequels without being an irritating cliffhanger.
The only thing I didn’t like was the constant use of the word “squick,” often twice per page, so that I got to anticipating it even when there was no reason for it. That got a squick annoying. But I liked Deryn/Dylan’s other favorite word, “beastie,” used at least as often if not more, so go figure.
I see many reviewers liked the sequel, Behemoth, even more than this first installment, so I’m looking forward to that. Oh irony, that I find a fun new trilogy right after blogging about the tiresomeness of trilogies, trilogies everywhere.
Morganatic: (marriage): in which the lower-ranking spouse and any children do not inherit titles, privileges, or property – also called a left-handed marriage
Clart: bit of mire or muck (the actual word, in context, is probably “shit”) – British dialect
Bogle: phantom, spook, scarecrow
Fléchette: small, dart-like projectile, fired from a gun
Boffin: scientific or technical researcher -British dialect
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