I have to admit, right at the start… I don’t think this is a very good book. I wasn’t hugely positive about the first in the series, and sadly, this one suffers from middle-book-of-trilogy problems, as well as not really being much different from its predecessor, The Mechanical.
This won’t be a long post, as all my niggles are the same, just a little bit more so.
The book is still something of a mishmash, without the coherent thread I feel it would need to pull everything together. I don’t really feel for the characters, and the underlying issues of steampunk are still there for me. The setting still isn’t as clear and interesting as I’d like, and especially the science of Clakkers is still magic with hand-waving explanation.
Add to this, however, that the lines between goodies and baddies are far more starkly drawn, so there isn’t much in the way of grey. Likewise, the political shenanigans are less subtle and less well-handled, so it overall feels like a much clunkier book.
And, well, the characters just aren’t there? I don’t care about any of them, because they don’t feel like people. So much telling, not showing, going on. I don’t dislike them, because they’re not people enough to dislike.
And I guess that’s my problem overall with this series… I just can’t get into it enough to want anything to happen. I’m not invested in anything. It’s not actively awful, in the way my next blog post’s book is (which is mainly why this one is so short – I had way more angry ranting to do in that one so didn’t have the brainspace for more nuanced views), but it’s not good either. It’s just… there. Sitting there, not doing anything of interest, note or consequence, and so I just don’t care. It’s mostly a triumph of aesthetic over content… which is one of my problems with steampunk as an entire genre, so I shouldn’t be wholly surprised. It’s a book I can see a lot of – it’s very descriptive, and there’s definitely a coherent thread to the visuals. It just doesn’t carry through to the content in as meaningful a way as I’d really like.
I should maybe just give up on steampunk at this point…
Shocker, I won’t be reading the sequel. But that’s more due to apathy than dislike.