Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I begin my review with the comment that, overall, I feel this collection is worth the money, and I would recommend it to others. I feel like I need to preface my review with this statement because reading this collection of stories was difficult for me, and a lot of that has to do with the way in which it is labeled as a collection of 13 Steampunk romances. Of all of these stories, I feel only four could be described as Steampunk, a handful more qualify as romances, with the rest perhaps falling under the label of urban fantasy or horror or some combination thereof. I am concerned by the uneven story selection and by how the description on the back cover promises the reader Victorian adventure, but only a fraction can be described this way. Further, of the thirteen primary characters, four are males and believe me when I say it doesn’t pay to be both the primary character and a male in any of these stories—no happy endings for the boys here! It’s all a bit of a mess with good stories that fit the descriptions provided blended with stories that would have had a greater chance to shine in a different collection.
What you need to know before reading this book:
This collection of stories is aimed at a young adult audience, and is appropriate with regards to content. If this book were a movie, it would be rated PG for scenes of violence.
Dark, urban fantasies come to life in the newest collection of Steampunk stories, Corsets & Clockwork. Young heroes and heroines battle evils with the help of supernatural or super-technological powers, each individual story perfectly balancing historical and fantastical elements. Throw in epic romances that transcend time, and this trendy, engrossing anthology is sure to become another hit for the fast-growing Steampunk genre!
This collection features some of the hottest writers in the teen genre, including: Ann Aguirre, Jaclyn Dolamore, Tessa Gratton, Frewin Jones, Caitlin Kittredge, Adrienne Kress, Lesley Livingston, Dru Pagliassotti, Dia Reeves, Michael Scott, Maria V. Snyder, Tiffany Trent, and Kiersten White.
I admit that as I started reading this book I felt a great deal of trepidation: I haven’t read much speculative space fiction set in a Victorian or Edwardian setting, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to enjoy this kind of story. Kenneth Oppel’s Matt Cruse series takes place in a slightly alternate history than we are familiar with, and this is an early twentieth-century technology that relies on dirigibles as the main form of travel and transport, which I like. In this book, however, Matt, Kate, and a new cast of characters train for space travel, and I began reading the novel unconvinced that author Kenneth Oppel could make this kind of travel plausible given the type of technology he had already established in his world building. I chastised myself for my resistance, however, especially after considering the tradition Oppel is operating within: French author Jules Verne wrote about space travel in From the Earth to the Moon (1865) and Off on a Comet (1877), American writer Edward Everett Hale theorized about space stations in The Brick Moon (1869), and English author H.G. Wells wrote about space colonization in The First Men in the Moon (1901). There are also examples from Russian writers as well! Clearly, there is a tradition of speculative space travel fiction spanning over a decade and a half, and rather than ask whether or not space travel is possible for this world, I needed to ask if it is internally consistent with the world Oppel has created and the literary tradition he is operating within as a whole. My attitude safely in check, I was able to read this final book of Oppel’s trilogy with new eyes and embrace the adventure. As with the previous novels in this series, Oppel has created a quest narrative that is action-packed and rich with tropes that are meaningful and relevant to young adult audiences, and the text reads like an action movie with vivid imagery and beautifully written adventure that kept me scrambling to see how Matt and Kate’s story ends.