First, a gentle warning for authors tempted to invite me to review their books:
I read this book as the result of a particularly effective ‘pitch’ letter sent via the contact page on this website. Let me remind others eager to do the same for their books that I’ve signed the True Review Pledge. That means I write honest reviews. My normal policy, in the past, was simply not to review books that didn’t impress me to a certain level. As an author, I fully understand how hurtful a bad review can be for a book into which you’ve poured your heart and soul, not to mention many hours of hard work. However, since taking the pledge, I feel I must produce a review for all the books I read. I can only hope that authors understand I’m motivated by concern for readers and no other reason.
This is a YA science fiction novel with elements of time travel and steampunk. I’ve only ever read one other example of steampunk, and that was definitely an adult book. So I approached this book with some misgivings. I generally write for adults and avoid the YA genre because such stories are often written to satisfy the fairly specific desires of the young readership. I’m positively ancient and have many years of life experience behind me, so those early yearnings, views and ideas are a distant memory.
The novel dashes along at a fair pace throughout. In fact, I rather wished for a break in the action so I could relax occasionally. The settings and devices are imaginative and well thought out. And the story is an action-packed adventure that will no doubt appeal to the intended readership.
I had problems with the two main protagonists in the sense that I couldn’t empathise with them. For me, the characters are the most important driving force in a book. If I can’t empathise with at least one, then I have difficulty going forward. That was the case here, and I didn’t finish the book. I found I didn’t care enough about the characters to invest my time in their adventures. Having said that, I’m pretty sure I’d have been happy to continue to the end if I’d read this book when fifteen years old.
The book is generally well written. But I was struck by the way that, in common with a lot of modern adventure fiction, the heroines overcame impossible odds and faced incredible challenges with apparent indifference to pain or fear. The relentless nature of such improbable adventure eventually stopped me reading. However, a younger readership is likely to be more willing to suspend their disbelief and will probably enjoy the romp.
So, not a book for me, but one that will undoubtedly find a satisfied readership amongst the YA fans.