I ordered this book because I was looking for something similar to the fantastic Philip Reeve Larklight series: young adult historical based science fiction with fantastic illustrations. This book definitely fits that bill although it lacks the strong commentary and cheeky wit of the Reeve books. On the other hand, it isn’t as misogynistic, though that means greatly altering the actual history upon which the book is based.
This is a good book with which to return to the wonder of Jules Verne but with 20th century history instead of the fin de ciecle world of Verne’s 1900 France. We’ve lost that sense of wonder somehow in the 21st century and it is a pleasure to read about science without computers, light sabers, holodecks, or ribbed-forehead aliens.
The plot was a bit slow to get started and I began to realize at about page 100 that this would suffer from the ‘first novel in a series’ syndrome. Since it is speculative fiction, a lot of world building expository is thrown in – which is fine but can get tedious to go through. That also meant that the main character is going to under an ‘epic’ journey that will transform him from whiney and ineffectual to an eventual hero. Unfortunately, we have to read through whiney and immature (read: Unlikeable) first. Morever, it’s a long wait before the main characters finally meet, which is also frustrating.
There are plenty of reviews about the plot – suffice it to say that this is a good set up book and it was good enough for me to really look forward to the next book in the series. And the artwork was really wonderful and added to the story immensely.
Reviewed from an ARC.