Reading Level: Young Adult
Publication Date: May 2012
Publisher: Amulet Books
Acquisition: I received a free ARC e-galley for review from NetGalley
This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance. On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears. (from Goodreads)
The Peculiars takes place in an alternative late 1800s. While the synopsis calls it steampunk, I wouldn't necessarily put it in that category. Nor would I be hard pressed to call it a fantasy and certainly not a romance. So...I guess I'm having a hard time placing this book in any set genre. It's an alternative history for sure. Most references do come from the end of the 19th century but the author has taken some liberties - which I think is kind of cool.
The peculiars themselves are another issue I had with this book. Are they supernatural beings? Genetic abnormalities? Both? Neither? Does it really matter? For me at least, it was a little bit of a confusing aspect of the storyline. Exactly what a peculiar is or isn't is never really discussed. Some people don't believe they exist. Some think they are monsters but when we actually meet and get to know them, they are just people. Some have deformities and there may have been more to it all but it was never explained.
I did really grow to love Lena. She's had both a hard life but also a somewhat sheltered life. Undertaking the journey she does and the hardships she faces along the way really tested her fortitude and I for one was routing for her the entire way. Now the romance? Honestly, I wouldn't even say there was a romance. Sure Lena finds herself with feelings she doesn't know what to do with occasionally but it doesn't really amount to anything.
With an interesting cast a characters and a storyline that was intriguing, overall I would have to say I enjoyed The Peculiars. I wish there was more back story given and I wish the few twists weren't as predictable but overall, a good read.
If you're looking for a steampunk adventure, I'm not sure The Peculiars is the way to go but if you're looking for a good adventure story in general then I would suggest you give it a try. Also, I love when historical aspects of a story are tweaked just a little bit. It gives the characters an extra something to hang onto and make their own.
3.5 / 5 Stars