Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Review: The Peculiars

The Peculiars
By Maureen Doyle McQuerry
**

"Maybe it was only goblin women who were restless and wanted to see the world. She didn't know.”
Description from Goodreads:
This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance. On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears.

My Review:
I had such high hopes for this book. I really like the steampunk genre, which this fits into, and the cover art was pretty great. However, I didn't get into the story. The main character, Lena, thinks she's a Peculiar. Her father was rumored to be a goblin, though most people in the city didn't really believe in that sort of thing. Lena is sure she is, though, because she has super long hands and feet, which both have a third joint. Lena has been told all her life by her grandmother that goblins are no good and implying that Lena has the same wild nature as her father (even though she's actually pretty meek and compliant). So Lena is never sure if her urges to see the world and find her father are normal or if they're part of her wild side.

Which would have been fine...except she's so whiny about it! And despite the fact that she's the heroine and you're supposed to like her, she did so many stupid things and acted so pathetically that I really couldn't stand her.

My other issue with this story is that the author was too heavy-handed with any element related to her brilliant inventor character - basically, he's so smart that he's figured out medicine, mechanics, etc, before their real 20th century inventors, and the same goes for the steampunk elements. I think it goes back to the first rule of writing: show, don't tell. And McQuerry did an awful lot of telling. I really don't know how to explain it any better than that, but suffice it to say, it took me out of the story and caused me to roll my eyes several times.

All that being said, this was an easy and quick read, and if you're into steampunk or fairy stories it may be worth it to give it a shot.

P.S. The character on the cover is not Lena. Lena has long hands and feet, not wings. The winged girl is a minor character who isn't in the story too much.

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