Monday, October 6, 2014

Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells

Emilie & the Hollow World by Martha Wells is a young adult steampunk adventure to the interior of the Earth.

In the process of stowing away on a steamship to escape her dreadful relatives, sixteen-year-old Emilie unwittingly finds herself part of a dangerous expedition beneath the Earth's crust. The ship she ends up on is not the placid steamer Merry Bell, but the Sovereign, a vessel specially designed to travel aetheric currents beneath the ocean to the inside of the world. Of course, it's never actually made this dangerous journey before . . .

I liked a lot of things about this book: the concept, the fast-paced plot, the well-imagined world of the Earth's interior, and the interplay between the steampunk science and the magic necessary to push it a few steps further. I thought the characterization was not as strong as the plot -- the cast of characters was large, and some of the minor characters seemed to run together, but not enough to make this more than a small quibble. I also thought Emilie acted a little young for her age. In fact, until her age was stated, I was picturing her as about 12, and had to mentally re-adjust. But it could just be that I'm used to 16-year-olds (especially in fantasy, where they're likely to be ruling a country or saving the world) who are written as more mature than real-life teens. Again, though, that's a minor issue in comparison to how much I enjoyed this book. I'm looking forward to reading the sequels. I'd recommend this to fans of Gail Carriger's Finishing School series.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

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