Soulless by Gail Carriger
As I said on Monday, in the past when I considered reading this book, I was dubious. Vampires and werewolves in steampunk London with a parasol wielding heroine? There are so many ways this can go horribly wrong. But for the most part, it doesn’t.
I”m going to compare this book to most Joss Whedon projects. There is a gap between how plausibly good the average Joss Whedon project should be and how much fun it really is. (This analogy does rely on one believing that Joss Whedon has a few good project to his name. If you don’t care for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, or even Firefly, you’re probably not going to be inclined to read this book anyway.) Even The Avengers shouldn’t be as much fun as it is, but it comes down to characters. Give me characters I like and I’ll forgive quite a few sins.
I also might be a little softer on this book because I’m (relatively) new to steampunk and not overly jaded when it comes to bodice-ripping romance novels. I’ve somewhat accepted the fact that no writer is going to handle steampunk world building as well as I’d like. It is, basically, science fiction set in the 19th century. Going back and rebuilding the world with new technologies (and supernatural aspects) and the ramifications of those things is a task. I’m certainly not saying that I could do it well. I maintain that the best policy as an author in regards world building is to either be exhaustive* or shut up. Gail Carriger present her world, but doesn’t over-explain. I’m okay with that…
…because I’m too busy enjoying myself. The situations have a level of absurd comedy that I enjoyed. The characters were maybe a little too stereotyped, but there is a lot going on in the book. If your world is already quirky, it might be okay to lighten up on the character eccentricities. The plot did a decent job of presenting one story as well as setting up the series. The language sparkled. Occasionally, there was too much attention paid to clothing, but that fits more with (my preconceptions about) the Victorian setting. I didn’t feel the epilogue was particularly needed, but I can see where the romance novel fans might want that sort of thing.
I suppose the true test might be, am I going to read the other books in this series? There are four more. I’m not sure. I’m certainly not going to do it now. While a few hours of fun and a nice break, I’m not up for more fluff just yet.
*If you go the exhaustive route, you don’t need to share every last detail with your reader, but you do need to know all the details.
Format: Kindle Cloud Reader
Procurement: Greater Phoenix Digital Library