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review 2015-03-06 07:57
The Sunken
The Sunken - S.C. Green

This is one of the weirdest books I've read in a very long time. I don't even know how to describe the weirdness correctly.

 

Imagine London in the first half of the Nineteenth Century. Now take away everything you know about that. Add to that a lot of steam engines, a complete class of people to man them, a vampire George III and what possibly is the weirdest religion system I've come across with. The Church of England has been replaced with the Gods of the Industrialisation. And then there are several churches based on different ideas. These churches have their Messiahs (like the best engineer in that class) and they are quite competitive. O, and did I mention it has dragons as well? (Although they're not quite given a large enough part of the book).

All of this together was quite the culture shock as I kind of expected Victorian England.

 

It took me some time to get into the story, as all the ideas where so weird, and although I recognized names from famous engineers from that era, like Stephenson and Brunel it was weird for me to see them as the main characters in this story, that has such a different reality going on.

 

After reading half of the story I started feeling a little less lost and enjoyed the story more. There were plot points that still don't make sense to me. It also feels like there are multiple massive plot lines that are all mixed up in one book by accident. The dragon-problem, the Luddite-problem and the robots, the whole The Passage-like vampire-problem. It felt like these problems could've better been dealt with in different books as this book was confusing.

 

And so, I feel conflicted about this book. For one, it's definitely an original story, the alternate steam-punk history is for once really alternate. (Perhaps even a bit too much so). All the things that were thought of really show there must have been a lot of work in making it. On the other hand, not every major plot twist made sense, and so much different stories were going on it was hard to keep track and try to understand anything from the world in this book. It was kind of messy.

 

However, it was, in its own way fascinating, so I might just give the second book a try when it's going to be published.

 

The Sunken is the first book in the Engine Ward Series. The second book has yet to be announced.

 

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2014-12-31 15:25
The Sunken
The Sunken (Engine Ward Book 1) - S C Green

(I got an ARC through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

Interesting ideas, blending 19th-century industrial Britain with religious sects based on trades. It gave the world a slightly dystopian flavour, casting skewed shadows on its inhabitants' motives and on the way things were run. Historical events were loosely respected and used (such as the king's madness, or Brunel's engines and railroads), but in a way that seemed believable enough to me. Same with historical personae: sure, some of them died before 1830 (the year the story's set in), but I didn't exactly care. I found it nice to see them play roles both similar and slightly different.

I remain torn regarding Holman's narrative, though: good, because it played on other senses than sight; strange, because it was the only first person point of view, and while it somehow fits with what was left by the real Holman in our world, it was also surprising. (I most often tend to feel like that when such switches occur in novels: why the need to insert such a POV in the story, what is it meant to achieve, etc.) Not uninteresting, just... questionable in places.

The story as a whole didn't grip me as much as I thought it would. The right ingredients are here, only not always used in a way that would keep my attention span steady (for instance, some things are repeated throughout the novel, whereas others are left as mere details that demanded to be fleshed out). The society described in this book is intriguing, however at times the reader has to piece bits together just a little too much for comfort. Nothing terrible, just sometimes tiring after a while. (On the other hand, I doubt I would have appreciated page after page of explanations, so I'm not going to whine too much about this.)

Not my love-love book of the year, however I may still decide to check the next book once it's out.

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