Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: May 1st, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk
**As always, I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.**
This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance. On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears.
This book was almost a DNF for me. But I persevered through and finished. And man it wasn’t easy. The plot was slow-moving, the protagonist was too stupid to live, and honestly, I was just bored to tears. When your only likable character is the cat, you know you have problems. Touted as steampunk, The Peculiars was barely steampunk. There were a few steam inventions, some gears, and an airship. That was the extent of the steampunk. So if you are looking for a vivid steampunk setting, look elsewhere.
The chapter titles spoil the chapter before you even start reading. Lena Plans an Escape? Bounty Hunters? Why thank you for telling me that there will be bounty hunters chasing after Lena in this chapter. I didn’t want to be surprised at all. Really? Really? What was the author, editor, publisher, etc. thinking? DUH guys. Don’t spoil your chapters for the reader.
This book had so much potential. But nothing came together. The characters had no personality, and what personality they did have was unlikable. Lena was a complete Mary Sue. And she was a moron on top of that. She couldn’t do anything right and she had no confidence in herself whatsoever. At one point she said she believed she had no soul and wanted to die. I’m not down with characters who just give up like that.
The next frustrating thing was that the opening chapters were uhhh-mazingg. A train with criminal shenanigans on the way to a mysterious town at the edge of an untamed land? Too cool. Everything that happened after the train? Fail. I simply did not care about anything. The book did enough to just barely hold my interest, but I was nowhere close to loving what I was reading. Instead, the plot was clunky, it dragged, and ended up being more tedious than most things I have read lately. A shame because it had so much potential. I know I already said that. But it needs to be repeated.
The other thing that needs to be repeated? The only likable character was the cat, Mrs. Mumbles. Mrs. Mumbles was awesome. And she was basically just a cat. I know I love animals, but still. That should tell you something about this book. Every time she came into a scene I found myself smiling. And when she wasn’t in a scene I am sure there was a scowl on my face. Because the rest of the characters were practically unbearable. Jimson and Mr. Beasley were dull. The author kept telling me what Jimson and Mr. Beasley were like, but I just couldn’t find a personality anywhere. And I already mentioned Lena. She kept doing stupid thing after stupid thing. I’m afraid you have to make your protagonist a little bit redeemable or your entire story will collapse. And it did. Lena was a terrible main character.
I have to give the author a fistbump for some quotes that I absolutely loved.
“How do you know what God’s design was? I am Peculiar. Maybe it’s people like you who are the mistake! Maybe God’s a Peculiar.”
And this one too.
What do my hands and feet have to do with who I am? I don’t know who I am. But do you know who you are? Does anyone really? What makes a decent person? Does being the same as everyone else mean being better than other people or does it just make it easier to look down your nose at them? This was from Lena’s argument with a missionary worker. Yes. A missionary worker. I will leave it up to you to interpret these quotes and how you might feel they apply to real life.
Now that I am finished with The Peculiars, I think I can say that this isn’t a terrible book. But I also don’t think it was a good one either. My main issue was the completely moronic protagonist. I can’t do stupid characters. The storytelling was decent. The writing was superb. But the plot itself? Meh. Definitely not bad enough for a one star rating, but definitely not good enough for a three either. Someone might like this book. I already see some that do. But it wasn’t for me. I didn’t care for it much at all.
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