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Thursday, January 14, 2010

BWB Review: Soulless

Title: Soulless
Author: Gail Carriger
Page Count: 373 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Genre: steampunk, paranormal romance
Copy for review was from my personal library

50 words or less: It's Victorian! It's steampunk! Vampires! Werewolves! Love! Society! Manners! Sentence fragments!

I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm kind of a fan of paranormal romance/urban fantasy books. It's hard for me to articulate what, precisely, it is that I like about them; I just know that I really enjoy them and that I have read a lot of them.

I can safely say with 100% certainty that I have not read anything like Soulless. This book takes a variety of concepts that seem to have nothing in common, throws them in the literary SlapChop, and comes out with something droll, unique, and quite, quite fun.

I will say at the onset that I don't think this is a book for everyone; it does appeal to a certain sense of humor, and if you like your paranormal romances all dark and brooding and serious and self-absorbed, then you might have to look elsewhere for your literary indulgence. If that sort of thing reminds you of having a rash, then odds are you'll find something that stands up and grabs you about Soulless.

For me, there were three things that grabbed me about Soulless. First and probably foremost, the cast of characters. This is not your typical vampires-and-werewolves book, nor is the heroine (Miss Alexia Tarrabotti) your typical heroine. Alexia is quite aware of all the supernatural shenanigans and goings-on in her world and deals with them in a sensible and straightforward way, thank you very much. I LOVED THIS. All too often I find myself wanting to grab female lead characters in these books and shake them and ask what the hell is wrong with them. I did not have that problem in this book at all.

Lord Maccon makes an excellent hero for this book, if only because he's such a perfect foil for Alexia. They work together perfectly, and their relationship develops at just the right pace, giving the reader plenty of time to enjoy my second favorite thing about this book, which is...

The steampunk element. If you haven't read anything in the steampunk vein before, this is a good introduction. The author's website has a really good page describing what, exactly, steampunk is as well. I'm a complete detail and gadget nerd when it comes to steampunk novels; the more details the better, but I understand that not everyone has this condition. As a book, Soulless understands this as well, and provides enough details to be descriptive without being overbearing.

Did someone say details? That, conveniently, is the third thing that really stood up and shouted hooray about this book. The author works a variety of details about clothing, food, fashion, mannerisms, and Victorian society into the novel without ever bogging it down. I especially loved the descriptions of the food; the fact that Alexia gets into the predicament that becomes the basis of the book because there were no acceptable snack offerings at an event struck me as exceptionally funny.

All right, time for me to think of a criticism for this book. I suppose, if I had to pick, I would say that the book, in terms of dialogue especially, assumes a certain level of familiarity with the time period and with ideas, attitudes, and modes of behavior therein. I found a lot of the conversations regarding science, for example, to be quite funny, but those who aren't familiar with what ideas were prevalent at the time might wonder just what in the hell the author is going on about. Personally, it made me want to dig out my history books.

Overall, Soulless is a fun, enjoyable read that's currently enjoying a prominent place on my keeper shelf. I will totally be buying Changeless, the next book in the series, when it comes out in March.

And now for something completely different:

Thank you.

Overall Grade: A+
Blog with Bite Grade: 4/4


My 5 Monkeys(Julie) said...

great review of the book.

Tina said...

great review....Im torn, I liked it and didnt...I think I just didnt GET it......I guess Im tooooooo American

Lily Child said...

I have been thinking of picking this one up. Wonderful review! Thanks! :)

Chelsea said...

I've been meaning to read this but had almost forgotten about it until I spotted your review on Year of the Historical. Thanks for the reminder and the great review! I'll have to pick it up in the future.

Ruth said...

Ooh, I've been wondering if I should get this. Your review definitely convinced me. :) Thanks for your excellent reviews - I've just discovered your blog properly today and I've been sitting here reading all your book reviews for the last hour! On all the books you've reviewed that I've read (Fire, Hunger Games, a couple of others), I have exactly the same opinion as you, too :D

SOULLESS sounds awesome from your review. Even the bad thing about it sounds awesome, since I have a weakness for historical fiction and REALLY prefer my historical-time characters to speak in a way befitting their time, rather than a 21st-century character transposed into the 18th (or whatever) century, as often happens. Grr.

Anyway, thanks again for your reviews! Very helpful! :)

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