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