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Dr. Leviticus Blue's Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine was designed to mine through the Alaskan ice to reach the gold discovered before the days of the Civil War. Unfortunately, the first test run went south when his machine destroyed many blocks of downtown Seattle and released a deadly underground gas. This blight gas, as it would come to be called, would kill those who had been exposed to it for too long, and for some unknown reason those dead may also return as zombie-like creatures. Now, sixteen years later, a wall has been built around the still toxic city center sealing off the blight gas and the hungry, undead rotters. Just beyond the wall lives Blue, Leviticus's widow, with her son, Ezekiel, just managing to scrape by. Then, one day Ezekiel takes it into his head to rewrite history and prove that both his father and his grandfather weren't the men everyone thinks they were, even though he never met either of them. That means going into the walled city to get the proof he needs, but along the way he'll face the undead, criminal overlords, armed refugees, and airship pirates. It's up to Briar to get her son back safely before he dies at the hands of one of the aforementioned groups, or the filters in his gas mask go bad.
I really like the idea of a steampunk novel set in an alternate version of Seattle during an extended Civil War with zombies, airships, and strong mechanical arms. However, in my opinion, the execution of the concept could have been better. The audio book I listened to was excellently produced and the two voices (one of which belongs to Wil Wheaton) made it easier to keep track of the multiple characters featured in the story. Unfortunately, the two leading characters were difficult for me to relate to with Briar coming off as much too distant and Ezekiel as just plain irritating and dumb throughout. Seriously, I was kind of hoping a rotter would stumble around a corner and take him out at every turn. I actually preferred some of the secondary characters, such as Swakhammer, Lucy, and Fang. Another minor issue for me is the pacing, which for the most part moved along at a decent pace, but overall the last third of the story goes at near break neck pace where the first two-thirds is practically leisurely in comparison. Admittedly, I also wanted to see a little more of the Boneshaker, too.
Overall, if you're a fan of gritty steampunk Westerns like Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto or zombies, chances are you'll enjoy Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. I'm looking forward to continuing Priest's The Clockwork Century series with Dreadnought and seeing more of the wider world that we were introduced to in this novel.
I listened to this audiobook from April 22 - May 7, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.