I was, much to my surprise, really MEH about this one. I was not expecting to be bored by a book with a badass mom lead AND airships AND zombies.(And that got so many award nominations!) I just didn’t connect much with the characters.
I think a large part of that connection problem for me was that we got a LOT of descriptive passages about all the Cool Steampunk Backdrop Stuff in the Briar (said badass mom lead) sections, and I kept thinking, “She is TOTALLY PANICKED about her kid who as far as she knows is PROBABLY DEAD, why the (#*($ would she be taking time to notice how the nifty ventilation system works?” And I know, I *know* it was not first-person narration, and there *is* such a thing as a not-so-tight third person narration where it isn’t omniscient but still there are things that aren’t really through the viewpoint character’s, um, viewpoint. But it just wasn’t WORKING for me–I felt like Zeke’s portions reasonably had a lot of WOW COOL worldbuilding and that worked fine, because he is fifteen and might indeed be distracted by shiny even when he SHOULD be terrified instead. But Briar–her sections were just not nearly filled enough with “I CANNOT THINK ABOUT ANYTHING BUT SAVING MY KID” for me, and every time those sections swung to detailed descriptions of airships I was kind of going, author, you are not serving the story here, you just wanted to go on about cool airships for a while, grrrrrrrr.
Also, I just don’t understand why ANYBODY stayed in the walled city. I get that the city outside was not exactly rolling in rainbows, either, but come on, ZOMBIES. If you COULD leave a city in which the zombies would stay walled up, YOU WOULD LEAVE. (Maybe this is made more clear in the sequels? Which I have no interest in reading.)
(I *did* enjoy the fact that I had mentally cast Briar as Eva Green. Mmmm, Eva Green.) And I liked the fact that the ending made sense in a way that I had COMPLETELY not seen coming.
And I really did like the thorough, upsetting, highly claustrophobic way Priest kept coming back to how difficult it was to breathe through the air filter masks. That felt very real (and very much something that you WOULD think about even if you were in a total panic.)
But overall just…meh. Not a grabber for me.
BUT! The reason I was so disappointed in this one is that I loved, LOVED her “Lizzie Borden fights Lovecraftian horrors” book Maplecroft. LOVED. And, in checking Amazon to make sure I was spelling Priest’s name right for this mehfest, I discovered that there is a sequel to Maplecroft, Chapelwood, coming out on September 1st! TWO DAYS! GO LIZZIE BORDEN!