Monday, February 28, 2011

Boneshaker VS Leviathan

I've been reading more lately. I do that when stressed or when my back goes out. In all of this I have read some books that have been on my list for a long time. Boneshaker was a Christmas present and D. brought home Leviathan as a surprise. It is fascinating how books within the same genre can be so different.  They are both officially steampunk. If you don't know what that is, here is a 15 minute podcast explaining it. If you don't have that much time, think Jules Verne, written now. Jules Verne doesn't officially count as steampunk because instead of writing about the past he was writing his future. Aside from the definition it is a fun genre.

Boneshaker is set in Seattle, about 1870. The summary is here, so I don't have to repeat it. The thing that really struck me was how feminine of a book it was.  Feminine is not exactly the word I want though. I was not a book I would imagine a man writing. Though the setting was cool and the zeppelins and poison gas destroying downtown Seattle and all the other things that went along with the steampunkness of the book were interesting, they were just sideshows to the main character. They were incidental to the plot rather than driving the plot. How the main character relates to the men in her life is the central motivating force as opposed to the mechanical doohickeys in the setting. Not that the mechanical doohickeys aren't cool, or detract from the story, it is just they are used differently than in many other novels of this type.

Leviathan is set a little later, in 1914. It follows the course of an alternate WWI. Full summary found here. It also has a female protagonist but it is not the intimate, personal novel that Boneshaker is. Since the female lead has to disguise herself to get into the army the femaleness is muted. The technology is much more important and drives the plot much more. There is more action though less zombies. It does describe a war, so you would expect the plot to be less character driven and more action-y. Though none of this is a criticism, it is just different. It is a fantastic read, one that appealed more to my oldest boy and my husband. The art is amazing. You should find this book at your local bookstore just to see the map on the end pages.

Steampunk is a fun genre and I am looking forward to reading the next books in each series.

1 comment:

jendoop said...

I just started Leviathan last night! Rachel and I love the steampunk fashion, so I decided I should try a book. When Paul and I were on the subway in NYC there was a bunch of 20-somethings all dressed up in steampunk. It was fun to see in real life and it was all I could do not to quiz them about making their clothes. This morning I was even considering a steampunk art project.