Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pulp of the Week - Cherie Priest's Dreadnought

Cherie Priest

 Dreadnought takes place after the events of Boneshaker and Clementine in Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century series. I guess you have to be a vehicle to get Cherie to name a book after you. The Clockwork Century stories are set in an alternate history American Civil war. The war has been going on a very long time.

This Savage Tale (it indeed qualifies there) introduces us to a Civil War nurse, Mercy Lynch, who is working at a busy hospital. She is caring and competent, assisting the doctors and caring for her patients. It is not easy as the war is brutal and the soldiers on both sides are taking a beating.

After a series of tragic events, Mercy is compelled to take a cross country trip by airship, train, and other means to get to her ill father.

As you may recall, I thought Boneshaker was outstanding. It is my favorite book I've read this year so far. Unfortunately, Dreadnought is merely very good. I think the story took a bit too long to unfold and there were a few detours along the way.

Boneshaker had the benefit of the gripping dilemma of a desperate mother following her son into the heart of Zombieland. The book was also told in two perspectives. Dreadnought is told in a single voice, a single perspective.

Mercy is a great character, but the dead straight, linear path of this book played out a bit too long for me. I think the whole of it could have been 100 pages shorter and it could have had greater impact. As I said above, Dreadnought was very good, but I thought it was missing some additional element to push it to great.

Clementine was much shorter and just as enjoyable. Cherie is building a great world here and I will continue to follow the Clockwork Century books. After reading Dreadnought I got to thinking about the structure of my own stories. Many of them follow just one characters' perspective. I need to be sure that I don't allow my viewpoint to get stale.

However, my stories are short stories. When I do a novel, I will have to be sure to allow another character's viewpoint to lend a different perspective on the story and to provide the pace that converging story lines can give.

I give Dreadnought an 8 out of 10. The book is again graced with a gorgeous cover by Jon Foster and nice design work throughout. As with Boneshaker, Dreadnought's tan pages and brown ink are beautiful to look at and comfortable to read.

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