Audiobook Review: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

27 05 2011

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Read by Kate Reading and Wil Wheaton

Macmillan Audio

Genre: Steampunk

Quick Thoughts: Boneshaker is a well produced audiobook that will be entertaining to readers whether they know what Steampunk is or not.

Grade: B+

I was a little hesitant to listen to Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. Boneshaker has been on my radar for a while, due to recommendations, and the books use of zombies. When searching for zombie novels, this book came up repeatedly and a few people whose opinions I respect gave it praise. Yet, I’m not sure about this whole Steampunk thing. In actuality, I’m not sure exactly what Steampunk is. I’ve asked for explanations, but all I really got was something about funky gadgets and blimps, which sort of sounded like the Fringe Alternate universe. Yet, many factors came together encouraging me to finally take the Boneshaker plunge. This is my zombie theme month. I am trying to read and listen to more female authors. Wil Wheaton is one of the narrators and most of all, Mira Grant mentioned the novel in my interview with her. With all these factors lining up like stars in a constellation, I felt that I just had to finally listen to Boneshaker.

When it comes to good Zombie fiction, you have two categories. Good Zombie Books and good books with zombies. It’s all about the perspective. You have books in which zombies are the plot, and books that include zombies in the plot. Boneshaker is definitely the latter. Boneshaker is an intricately plotted novel about a young man searching for his roots, and a mother who will do anything, including entering a deserted city with toxic air and infested with rotters, to keep her boy safe. The tale is told in intertwining perspective shifts following the paths taken by Zeke, the son, and Briar, his mother. Zeke trying to discover the truth behind his father’s reputation is a brash, cocky youth who can be quite annoying at times. Of course, that makes sense, being a brash, cocky youth. He and his mother travel through a city not quite as dead as expected, often with overlapping paths yet never quite connecting. I found Boneshaker’s world intriguing, but what really sold me what the characters. From the main protagonists, to the smallest of role, the people you meet in Boneshaker are memorable, and, well the best word that comes to mind is, salty. I felt like the author really knew these characters, from their almost musical names, to their hints of depth, it was like each character could have a novel of their own.  The Zombies worked as a background menace, and implement of pacing that played to the heart of the desperation of the characters. While I am still not all that clear what Steampunk really is, I can say that Boneshaker is truly an entertaining listen.

I often have trouble with the two narrator system, where a male and female narrator handle differing point of views, especially when the POV’s intertwine like they do here in Boneshaker. This intertwining will cause minor character’s voices to change due to a switch in narration, and this can be disconcerting at times. Yet, I didn’t have that problem with Boneshaker. Whether it was just perfect casting or good direction, the duel narration of Kate Reading and Wil Wheaton worked. Kate Reading has a gravely, mature voice, unlike many of the perky, go-getter style many female narrators have. With Reading, you can feel the desolation of the situation and the growing desperation of Briar. The female characters you meet are strong women, nothing like the typical Hollywood heroine, and Reading voices them perfectly. Wheaton’s straight forward style works well in this world, and when Reading and Wheaton share character voices there is actually a matching timbre which allows the reader to stay within the story. Boneshaker is a well produced audiobook that will be entertaining to readers whether they know what Steampunk is or not.

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