Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cuttlefish by Dave Freer

In a post global warming catastrophe world,Clara, an outcast at her boarding school, finds herself and her mother on the run from Soviet and British agents because of her mother's talent with chemicals. Their only hope is to escape on the Cuttlefish, an outlawed submarine. There she meets Tim, a boy from the streets of drowned London that works on the crew. The two become friends and try to unravel the mystery of who might be a spy on the crew as the vessel attempts to escape capture from all sides.

Genre: steampunk

Rating: 3.5/5

Having immersed myself in steampunk for quite a while, this offering was more of the classical steampunk quality with a healthy dose of Jules Verne-esque adventure. The story moves along at a good clip and the characters of Clara and Tim are very likable and believable. Clara is feisty without being annoying and Tim is heroic, but believably so. The biggest problem for me came with the ending feeling rushed and sometimes I struggled to tell whether the author was talking about a flashback or what was currently going on. The other thing, which is just a comment that I make as a librarian who has bought this book for our library and has heard students talking about it, the title "Cuttlefish" is getting mispronounced as "Cuddlefish", making some of the boys a little wary of picking it up. This is a weird thing, but something I've encountered with readers.

Steampunk is a funny genre in general and I would think a bit of a hard one to work in. You're blending history, speculative fiction, science fiction and adventure in many cases there's a lot going on, which is why I admire authors who try it. Because it's such a tricky genre there's a lot of room for books to fall flat, but also a lot of room for creativity. This particular example struggled a bit at the end, but for YA readers who like their adventure I feel like this would be very popular.

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