Monday, December 6, 2010

Steampunk Surprise

I love fantasy. I enjoy science fiction. I appreciate alternate histories. I love dystopians. I love all sorts of novels that require using your imagination to build a different world in your mind alongside the author. I had heard of steampunk, of course, and figured I sort of understood what steampunk meant. Then I tried to read Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld. Now, I had read Uglies by him, and loved it. I thought his premise was clever and fascinating. I saw Leviathan on a list of recommended reads by teens, which I'm slowly working through, and checked it out of the library.

I'm glad I used the library.

It didn't help that there are two protagonists, that it is so politcal and war-centered. None of those are things I love. But the scope of weirdness was so far beyond what I had read before that I struggled to pay attention to the plot in my attempts to visualize this alternate WWI setting, with machines and living-genetically altered living creatures mixed together to create a different kind of war machine. Hearing Germany and France just kept jarring me as I was reading about a floating ship consisting of a giant, living whale and an apparently a giant ecosystem that also somehow requires pilots and navy-like Air Force people. I was so baffled that I might be completely wrong about what the ship actually was built out of, but if that's the case, that's just another reason why it's not a book for me.

I think it's clear that it takes a lot of creativity to build this kind of world and I can respect that. I can totally respect the author and how much he has accomplished. What I couldn't do is get past chapter 4 of this particular book. Do you know how rare that is? I actually abandoned a book! Gasp! Now I will try one other steampunk, I suppose, to see if I dislike the genre in general (as I suspect) or if it was just one of those cases when a reader and a book don't match. There are lots of fans for Leviathan--I'm just not one of them. I feel sad about that. Steampunk sounds so COOL! "Yeah, I'm reading this awesome steampunk novel..." Oh well! Too many books to spend time on ones you don't really enjoy! Off to read The Maze Runner, by James Dashner. It was on the same recommended list as Leviathan...we'll see how this one goes!

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