Bookbanter Column: The Only Zombie Books You Ever Need to Read (May 25, 2012)

If you’re a reader and a fan of the horror genre, then chances are you’ve read a zombie book of some sort; maybe more than one.

In case you haven’t noticed, this living dead sub-genre simply won’t go away, as more and more zombie books are being churned out, to the point where most horror authors have now tried their writing hands at bringing an unlikely character back from the dead.

In an earlier Book Banter Column I discussed the short history of the zombie genre, which you can read here.

The big problem I find with most zombie books is that that’s all the story is really about: zombies attacking humanity and how humanity fights back, kills them for good, and ends up winning.  End of story.  This is fine as a story premise, except that it’s been done so many times, not just in books, but in movies, comic books, as well as various other forms of media.

For me the unique zombie story is one that has an interesting, captivating story in a world where there are zombies.

Enter Mira Grant.

Mira Grant is the pseudonym of Seanan McGuire.  Seven years ago she came up with an idea for a zombie book that was a small idea that became a big one, then a trilogy.

The first book, Feed, was released in 2010 and was nominated for a Hugo Award.  The second book, Deadline, was released in 2011 and received just as much support and good press as its predecessor.  The final book in the trilogy, Blackout, was released just this week and has already been getting lots of coverage and hurrahs from fans.

So the complete trilogy has been released, and it honestly feels more like one long book, making it the perfect time to check this series out and give it a read.

Here’s why you should read Feed:

It is the future, the year is 2039.

Twenty-five years ago the Kellis-Amberlee virus was released and began turning humanity into zombies.

The world is now a very different place: many people rarely leave their homes, or the protected confines of their neighborhoods; many places have been overridden by zombies, while the government does what it can to feebly protect its people.  Georgia Mason (named after someone who understood zombies very well) and her twin brother Shaun are bloggers.  When everything went to hell a quarter-century ago, the media denied what was happening, mocking the bloggers who were purportedly telling the truth.  Now the bloggers have become the media, for they are the only ones brave (or stupid) enough to get close to the zombies and report what’s happening.

It’s an election year and Republican Senator Peter Ryman is running for president, looking to change the country, to make the American people feel safe and protected once more.

George and Shaun and their techie Buffy have been picked as members of the media to cover Senator Ryman’s campaign, launching them into journalism stardom.  But then something terrible happens, at one of the Senator’s events; zombies attack and people die.  As the Senator’s campaign continues, George, Shaun and Buffy try to put the pieces together and work out exactly what’s going on, and why the Senator is being attacked, in an attempt to ultimately find out who is behind it all.

Mira Grant is not simply telling a good story about zombies; she is instead telling a fantastic story about a group of young bloggers covering the campaign of a hopeful presidential candidate in a world where there are zombies and fear is a part of everyone’s everyday life.

And as the book comes to a close, the reader realizes there are things in this world that are worse than zombies.

They’re humans.

Here’s why you should read Deadline:

Shaun Mason is in a very dark place.

In a world where every person wakes up with the fear of zombies in their minds, as well as the terror of somehow amplifying at any moment, Shaun doesn’t really care anymore.

When he had to shoot his sister and kill her before she fully amplified, it was definitely a turning point in his life.  And now he has very little to live for; his sister was everything to him, and had always joked about what she would do when he was dead, because he was the risk taker.  There was no scenario for when George was killed and Shaun was left all alone.  Though there is one little light in this dark, dark tunnel and that is that Shaun still talks to his sister . . . in his head.  She’s alive and well in his brain and he talks to her, has conversations with her, even argues with her.

Fortunately, anyone else who spends time with him knows that Shaun is now pretty much crazy and they all just deal with it.

But the world must go on and Shaun has a news organization to run, along with an experienced team, he makes the decisions when he has to and lets the talented people he has working for him do what they do best; while the former daredevil who used to fly in the face of danger for the chance to get some great zombie footage is no more.

And then a member from the CDC drops into their laps with an incredible story to tell.  A story that has everything to do with the Kellis-Amberlee virus, how it might have got started, and where the CDC is on the cure.  She’s also faked her own death and appears to be off the radar, and then a devastating outbreak coincidentally happens right where Shaun and his team are currently hanging out.  Some make it out, while others are incinerated, as outbreak protocols are followed.  This event awakens the spark and drive that has been missing in Shaun for some time.

Now he has something to go on, a clue that will lead him on the trail to finding out who had his sister killed and how this virus got “accidentally” released and destroyed the world.

And here’s why you should read Blackout:

We last left George apparently somehow alive and well, living the life of a clone in a CDC lab.

She slowly puts things together as time passes, but for every answer there are fifty more questions.  Also is she really Georgia Mason?  She doesn’t have the reservoir condition anymore; she’s a lot thinner that George ever was; and her hair is annoyingly long and bleaching with every shower.

Then she finds out she might have an ally or two on the inside, but she isn’t sure if she can trust them.

Meanwhile, as Shaun continues to talk to Georgia in his head and act all kinds of crazy, he keeps the gang of After the End Times on the move.

After spending some time with Dr. Abbey in her secret lab, as she takes copious daily amounts of his virus-immune blood, he thinks about where the trail is leading next, where he can get more answers, and find out just what this whole conspiracy is all about.  It will involve possibly going on a rescue mission to Florida, which has been designated a zombie-ridden loss for the country; meeting with his parents who he hates, to ask for help; and tracking down the best I.D. counterfeiter in the business to start their new lives.

Mira Grant skillfully switches between the George and Shaun storylines with each chapter, making the characters appear as distinct and complex as they were in the first two books, as she slowly but seamlessly brings them together, building the tension and thrill.  The reader knows the step-siblings are going to meet up again at some point, but will Shaun be able keep his sanity or will he just be pushed over the edge?  Then there’s the question of which clone of Georgia Mason will be there to greet him?

Blackout is the perfect, satiating finish to the trilogy, making the three-book series feel like one long, epic story.

No reader will be disappointed, with a worthwhile ending that will leave him or her sad that the wonderful journey is now over . . . but just like when the end of Harry Potter was reached, or the final page of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, how many of us turned back to the first book and started reading that first page once again.

Having reread the first two books, this trilogy will be one I will continue to reread constantly throughout my lifetime.

(Originally published on Forces of Geek)

Bookbanter Column: “Zombie is the New Undead” (April 11, 2011)

You sit in your favorite chair, in your favorite room of the house: the library. Your legs are comfort- ably crossed, the temperature is just right: warm and cozy. You’re reading your favorite book on your Ipad, swiping your finger rapidly across the screen to turn the page and continue with the gripping story. You’ve tuned out the world, focused on the captivating story with the unstoppable heroine who is fighting to save the day; you know she will triumph, but you still read for the inevitable surprise. As you begin a new chapter, you finally here a scratching at the door. But you have no pets; who could it be? The scratching continues, as if whatever is on the other side is trying to claw their way through the door. It is then that you hear the deep, inhuman groaning. You put down your Ipad, fear crawling its way up your spine, as you hesitantly walk towards the door. Building up your courage – kidding yourself that it’s just your little brother playing around, but you secretly know better – you fling open the door and scream as the zombie reaches out for you . . .

Zombie. Dictionary.com defines it as “the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.” Wikipedia says, “A fictional undead monster or a person in an entranced state believed to be controlled by a bokor or wizard.” But if I was to refer to Night of the Living Dead, you would have a concrete image in your mind of a weak, slow-moving undead human with its arms stretched out, groaning and moaning, hungrily in search of brains. While the concept of zombies has been around for a long time, George A Romero’s cult classic brought the idea of the walking dead human back to life in a whole new way, spawning countless successive zombie movies.

28 Days Later  Shaun of the Dead

Zombies have appeared numerous times in literature, but it wasn’t until the publication of The Book of the Dead in 1989 that we first saw a collection of zombie stories, based on the premise from Night of the Living Dead. The image of the archetypal zombie described above had fully solidified in our society’s conscious. But during the first decade of the twenty-first century there was a drastic change in the familiar paradigm of the zombie, thanks to the likes of 28 Days Later (2002) and Shaun of the Dead (2004) in film, and Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide published in 2003, followed by his New York Times bestseller World War Z (2006).

  World War Z  Breathers

All of a sudden the zombie wasn’t a scary, slow-moving creature, but one that was an incredibly fast, terrifying nightmare, or could be funny and entertaining; a pet to be kept in your shed. It was a creature we fought a war with and barely survived. It was, jokingly, something we might one day have to face, and here were some detailed ways to protect yourself. S. G. Browne, author of the bestselling Breathers – a book about how zombies would be treated as members of society – has this to say about our contemporary zombies:

“In addition to running like Olympic sprinters and making us laugh, modern zombies are domesticated as pets (Fido), write poetry (Zombie Haiku), and have invaded classic literature (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). They can also be found on the Internet going to marriage counseling, falling in love, and singing to their former co-workers (Jonathan Coulton’s “Re: Your Brains.”) In short, they’ve expanded their range, become more versatile. More well-rounded. And who doesn’t enjoy a more well-rounded zombie? Plus, zombies are tragically comical. Shuffling along, losing their hair and teeth and nails and the occasional appendage. Add the fact that they used to be us and we can’t help but relate to them.”

And what is it about these undead that fascinates us so? Browne’s last sentence does point out an interesting fact that zombies were once people, and when we recognize the person, that is when we have issues in “putting them to rest.” But what is resonating with humanity on a psychological level to want to read and watch and experience the thrill of a living corpse coming for you? Browne continues:

“The prevailing argument I often hear describes the current popularity of zombies as a direct reflection of global fears regarding the economy and terrorism. Horror as catharsis for the fears and anxiety of a society making commentary on itself. I disagree. I believe the current fascination with zombies has less to do with economic angst and more to do with the fact that zombies have been taken out of their proverbial archetypal box. No longer are they just the shambling, mindless, flesh-eating ghouls we’ve known and loved for most of the past four decades. Today’s zombies are faster. Funnier. Sentient.”

This is but one opinion on why we enjoy watching and reading about zombies. Mira Grant, author of the bestselling Feed – set in a techie near future where a virus can turn anyone into a zombie – presents another viewpoint:

“Zombies are, in many ways, a blank slate for our fears — they let us fear illness, fear sublimation, fear the terror of the familiar becoming the alien – without admitting that those fears cannot always be fought in a physical form. And in a time when so many of the classic monsters are being sexualized and humanized, zombies are one of the only things it’s still acceptable to hate and fear on sight.”

Grant brings up an important point. The world of vampires over the last two decades has certainly been revamped (pun intended!) with the likes of Louis (Brad Pitt) and Lestat (Tom Cruise) in the 1994 adaptation of Interview with a Vampire, Angel and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and – of course – Edward (Robert Pattison) from The Twilight Saga. While there have been a number of stories and books about “likeable” zombie characters, no true hero has been raised from the grave.

And yet zombies continue to pervade every sphere of entertainment, as well as every genre of writing, whether it’s bestselling anthologies like John Joseph Adams’ Living Dead, or Christopher Golden’s New Dead; to original novels like Brian Keene’s The Rising, Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series, or Stephen King’s Cell; to the popular graphic novel series (and now successful TV series) The Walking Dead; to international levels with Swedish author of Let the Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Handling the Undead. To say I am barely scratching the tip of the iceberg does not do the list of zombie literature justice. Readers may want to check out the Wikipedia page on a “List of Zombie Novels” for further details.

Living Dead  Cell  Handling the Undead

Jonathan Maberry has even brought the subject of zombies to the popular world of young adult fiction with his first book in the series, Rot & Ruin. Maberry came up with the idea when asked to do a story for the New Dead anthology: “I decided to explore the experience of a teenager dealing with something vastly beyond his control. During the writing of the novella I fell in love with the characters and the world of the Rot & Ruin (which is what everything is called that’s beyond the fence line of the small town in which the characters live).” With the success of the first book, Maberry has three sequels planned, with Dust & Decay coming out in August. Even he has been surprised with the success of the “young adult zombie” novel: “It’s won a number of awards already including the Cybils and Dead Letter Award, and has been nominated for a Stoker, the YASLA and others.”

But will the zombie fascination ever come to an end? As a bookstore employee for the last seven years, I have seen the rise of zombie fiction, and while it does seem to have slowed a little, an end appears nowhere in sight. On this topic, Grant says,

“I don’t think the zombie fascination will die down or cool off until we stop being afraid of going to the doctor, of the man on the subway, of the woman with the pamphlet telling us to repent. They’re the monsters for this modern age. The vampire had a pretty good run as the biggest bad in existence — about five hundred years, give or take. I doubt the zombie will break that record, but it’s going to try.”

While John Joseph Adams, editor of the successful Living Dead anthologies, has this to say:

“I think it’s safe to say that zombies will continue to be popular for the foreseeable future. In literature, everything zombie-related has so much competition right now, however, it’s become really hard to stand out. But I think there’s a core fan-base for zombie fiction that will buy up every zombie book they get their hands on, so it’s a safe bet from a publishing point of view–i.e., put zombies in it, and it’ll sell. (The art director corollary is “Put an airship on it, and it’ll sell.) It’ll be interesting to see how things develop; if the zombie genre is going to continue to thrive, its practitioners will have to figure out ways to innovate while keeping things traditional enough so as not to alienate the existing and loyal core fan-base. Fortunately for the genre, zombies work well as a blank canvas and can be easily made to do the writer’s bidding.”

The Age of the Zombie is still alive, undead, and well, because the archetype of the zombie has been so drastically altered. Zombies are like superheroes now, in that there is little limitation to what they may be capable of. Writers are constantly coming up with new and different ways to present the living dead, whether it’s decaying family members we feel the need to aid in Handling the Undead, or the concept of a zombie prostitute in S. G. Browne’s short story “Zombie Gigolo” from Living Dead 2, or even zombie Stormtroopers in Joe Schreiber’s Star Wars: Death Troopers. Anthologies, on the other hand, help to reveal zombie stories known authors have written, but also pose a challenge of writing a zombie story by a writer not know for this genre. In fact, in five years time it is far more likely that the remaining bookstores will have an individual zombie section, separate from their horror section. It really boils down to a relatively simple concept, which Adams pointed out above: as long as there are people buying and reading zombie stories, publishers will continue to publish it, and writers will therefore continue to write it, as well as parody it. Think of it as a never ending cycle, if you will, or perhaps an undead cycle that cannot be put to rest.

Living Dead 2  Death Troopers

Author’s note: The zombie works mentioned above are just a smattering of the whole body of zombie work, covering all mediums. As a reader and movie watcher, I know I have only been exposed to a small amount. I invite readers to post comments on their favorite zombie stories, or perhaps rare ones that not many are familiar, as well as anything else they might want to mention about the living dead.

“I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus: A Breathers Christmas Carol” by S G Browne (Gallery Books, 2012)


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The bestselling author of the hilariously entertaining zombie book, Breathers, has a Christmas treat for you: a zombie holiday novella featuring some of the characters you’ve come to love from Breathers.  It’s a Christmas miracle like no other; one you won’t soon forget.

Andy Warner is having problems.  Other than being a zombie, he’s also a test subject in a horrible lab, where the employees care nothing about their zombie guinea pigs and will poke and prod, burn and dismember, and do whatever they feel like with them.  But after the unfolding events of Breathers, this is what his life has become now.  Zombies no longer have any rights whatsoever; many have been put to rest permanently, while those still around are trapped in these labs across the country.  But Andy has a plan to spring him and his fellow zombies out of this prison, along with the help of a zombie support group.

Once on the outside, Andy does his best to keep his friends safe, but also make sure they have a regular supply of fresh human to keep them healthy and well.  Funnily enough, when people treat you like nothing more than a corpse in a lab, you don’t care that much when you want to eat them.  But the people from the lab are looking for them, scouring the city, and eventually they will be found.  Though Andy also knows he has an ally in one of the laboratory employees, but doesn’t know why.

And in the middle of all this, Andy meets a lonely nine year-old girl who believes he’s Santa, because he was dressed as Santa (the perfect disguise at Christmas) and wants just one gift in the whole world: to have her bad parent of a mother pay more attention to her and love her.  So now Andy has a guilt problem to deal with, as well as to save all his zombie friends and himself from getting caught and thrown back in the lab.  He knows if he gets caught, he’ll end up on the body farm this time.

Browne does a great job of replicating the voice and tone of Breathers, putting you right back in the world he created and making you realize how much you missed it.  Andy even comes up with a few haikus to entertain you.  Readers will be thrilled with this Christmas present, and be left wondering if Browne will be writing any more adventures of Andy and his unusual gang.

Originally written on December 4, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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Breathers  Fated  Lucky Bastard

“The Walking Dead Rise of the Governor” by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga (Thomas Dunne Books, 2011)

Rise of the Governor
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The Walking Dead comic book series has gone on to do what few other zombie-related stories have: it just keeps on going, gaining more fans and readers, with no end in sight.  As the comic continues to come out with new and captivating issues, the TV series is working through its second season, and a videogame is in the works.  Writer of Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman, somehow found the time to write a book this year too – in between working on the comic and working on the show – as he felt one chapter in Walking Dead’s past hadn’t been completely explored.

The Governor was a unique and terrifying character in the series, who seemed at first friendly and nice, and then turned into a monster.  While readers only got to see the man the Governor had become when Rick and the gang met up with him in the comic book, in Rise of the Governor Kirkman explores this enigmatic man’s past.  His real name is Philip Blake, and like Rick and many other people, he started out down-to-earth and normal when the first zombies arrived on his doorstep.

In the book, Kirkman explores the character’s back-story, molding him into the terrifying man he eventually became.  While his story at times seems like a slow and predictable one that readers have already learned about – especially if they’ve read the comic – there are details and characters traits that are learned and keep the story going.  Plus, if readers are already familiar with The Governor, then they’ll definitely want to read up to the very end of the book to see what exactly made him the despicable thing that he became.

Originally written on November 20, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Doorways from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Deadline” by Mira Grant (Orbit, 2011)

Deadline
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Warning: This review contains spoilers for Feed and Deadline.

On the first day of May of 2010, Mira Grant graced the world with the first book in the Newsflesh Trilogy, Feed . . . and it was good; it was very good.  And now, on the thirty-first day of May of 2011, the long wait is over and readers get to finally enjoy the sequel, Deadline.  Once again Grant has achieved the incredible with a long story of over six hundred pages that will have you wide eyed and mouth wateringly hooked from the very first to the very last.  Middle books in trilogies are often weak compared to the strong start and captivating end, but Deadline is a worthy next installment that is as good as Feed in many ways, making it feel more like a continuation of the same book.

Shaun Mason is in a very dark place.  In a world where every person wakes up with the fear of zombies in their minds, as well as the terror of somehow amplifying at any moment, Shaun doesn’t really care anymore.  When he had to shoot his sister and kill her before she fully amplified, it was definitely a turning point in his life.  And now he has very little to live for; his sister was everything to him, and had always joked about what she would do when he was dead, because he was the risk taker.  There was no scenario for when George was killed and Shaun was left all alone.  Though there is one little light in this dark, dark tunnel and that is that Shaun still talks to his sister . . . in his head.  She’s alive and well in his brain and he talks to her, has conversations with her, even argues with her.  Fortunately, anyone else who spends time with him knows that Shaun is now pretty much crazy and they all just deal with it.

But the world must go on and Shaun has a news organization to run, along with an experienced team, he makes the decisions when he has to and lets the talented people he has working for him do what they do best., while the former daredevil who used to fly in the face of danger for the chance to get some great zombie footage is no more.  And then a member from the CDC drops into their laps with an incredible story to tell.  A story that has everything to do with the Kellis-Amberlee virus, how it might have got started, and where the CDC is on the cure.  She’s also faked her own death and appears to be off the radar, and then a devastating outbreak coincidentally happens right where Shaun and his team are currently hanging out.  Some make it out, while others are incinerated, as outbreak protocols are followed.  This event awakens the spark and drive that has been missing in Shaun for some time.  Now he has something to go on, a clue that will lead him on the trail to finding out who had his sister killed and how this virus got “accidentally” released and destroyed the world.

Deadline continues right where Feed left off, and Grant manages to keep the pace and fear and excitement going throughout, supplying plenty of horror, scifi tech, and lots of fascinating medical and virus details that add further to the story.  She also addresses the harsh reality that she created in Feed, where no one is safe from becoming the walking dead, and lives will be lost no matter what.  Readers will find Deadline a worthy addition to this fantastic trilogy that is as good as anything created by the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, with an ending that will leave them yearning for May of 2012 and the thrilling conclusion in Blackout.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on May 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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Feed    Apocalypse Scenario

If You’re Going to Read One Zombie Novel This Year, Read “Feed”

Feed

In a little over a month, Feed by Mira Grant will be published at the very affordable price of $9.99.  Feed is the first in the Newsflesh trilogy penned by the October Daye series author, Seanan McGuire.  Why is she using a pseudonym?  Because Feed is such a departure from Rosemary and Rue and A Local Habitation that McGuire felt the need to publish it under a different name.

It is almost the middle of the twenty-first century and zombies have taken over a significant portion of the Unites States (presumably the rest of the world also); Alaska has been abandoned to them; people live in constant fear, not wanting to leave their homes, and it only takes a small amount of the Kellis-Amberlee to turn you.  Feed is told from the viewpoint of Georgia Mason (in this world, after everything went to hell, George and Georgia have become popular names, after a certain director), a professional blogger.  When the zombies rose, the media ridiculed the reports and stories as jokes and fakes, while the bloggers told the real story of what was happening.  Georgia is a strong female character who runs the blogging site, along with her brother Shaun and their necessary techie, nicknamed Buffy — a reference that only certain characters can barely remember.  The team is looking to make it big after getting to cover the presidential run of a governor who wants to make America a better place, more than a glowing hint of the shining beacon it once was.

McGuire delivers a stunning, deep, complex, and moving 600-pager that goes way beyond your average zombie novel.  If the rising dead and blood and gore were surgically removed from Feed, it would be a work of important fiction, with realistic, complicated characters that affect the reader on a number of levels.  But then Feed is made all the better with the zombies; and the technical details, the blogging terminology, and the important medical references that makes it a compelling novel you won’t want to put down.  Think Michael Crichton — at his best — meets the world of World War Z, but in a unique and realistic setting of the future filled with gadgets that we will see in out lifetimes, which only could’ve come from the mind of Seanan McGuire . . . or is that Mira Grant?

And Feed is available for preorder right now on Amazon, and this is a zombie book you’ll want to own, so that once you’ve read it, you can lend it to each of your friends.

“Boneshaker” by Cherie Priest (Tor, 2009)

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In an alternate America of the 1880s, Leviticus Blue invents a mining machine that is supposed to revolutionize the growing town of Seattle.  Instead he loses control of the Bone-shaking Drill Engine, which breaks loose and tears through the underground of the town, causing buildings and roads to collapse within the tunnels made by the machine.  Then a mysterious blight gas is released that somehow turns anyone who breathes enough of it into the living dead.

Sixteen years pass and the city is walled off, turning it into a zombie graveyard.  There are those who live on the inside of the wall, eking out a survival, always terrified they will breathe the gas and be turned.  Then there are those who live on the outside of the wall, having abandoned their city, living in poverty, trying their best to get by.  Finally there are the zeppelins and airships that ferry, transport, and smuggle items into and out of Seattle.

Briar Wilkes, husband to the late Leviticus Blue, is doing her best to get by, while supporting a growing teenage boy.  Only Ezekiel wants to find out more about his dad, wondering if he might still be alive, and whether he was truly to blame for the tragedy that befell Seattle.  Ezekiel sneaks past the wall through a sewer pipe and travels into the doomed town.  Briar soon discovers that her greatest fear has come true, and she must go in after him.  She will make friends on the inside, but also enemies, while fighting to find out if her son is still alive, as well as making sure she doesn’t get turned by the blight gas.

Cherie Priest has created a wonderfully original story in what she says is a response to the Steampunk look of hat and goggles.  The result is a fun, action-packed book that explores the relationship of a mother and son with an unusual past, along with designed yellowed pages and brown print that gives Boneshaker a whole unique look.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on January 24th, 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Cherie Priest check out BookBanter Episode 25.