Hardcover, 305 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Simon & Schuster BFYR
In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.
Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.
As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.
I was really sick after I finished this book, like confined to the bed for five days sick, and for some odd reason, in the delirium brought on by multiple Tylenol 3s, I could not stop thinking about this book. Deconstructing it in my head, analyzing the plot twists and the narrative elements. It almost drove me crazy.
So it was inevitable that I would write a review of this. The cover and the promise of steampunk pretty much guaranteed that I would give this one a try. The novel however was a disappointment. It had the potential but never fully met it. The setting of the novel is interesting. A contemporary London is torn up from its usual haunting grounds in merry olde England and finds itself, rather like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, in an alternate universe. And just like they did in America and elsewhere, they start killing the natives. Only they don’t just kill the natives, they preserve them in museums for the entertainment of all the elites who can afford to go and be entertained. There are firm hierarchies present and social division plays a big role in this society. There are also a gypsy like people who live in abandoned train tracks and who undergo Culling which is a nice and magical term for genocide.
There is a fourteen year old boy, Syrus, who has some magical abilities and there is a fascinating creature, some kind of mythical beast, who holds the fate of their world in her. The synopsis is misleading in that it implies that Syrus and Vespa are the two main characters. And while this is true to a certain degree, it is certainly not the whole truth. There is a very useless, yet strangely intriguing (to Vespa, not me), love interest present. Vespa is one of those protagonists who make you question where she has ever read a book. She is supposedly a witch. Supposedly. The most fascinating and memorable character in this novel is Syrus. The love interest whose name I can’t remember is, if you recall, useless. He does not do anything even though he is full of hot air about doing everything. Even in situations of extreme urgency, he is waiting for Syrus to make an appearance before taking any action. And Vespa, like any good stupid heroine, waits to be rescued by others.
There are so many similarities to Twilight in this one. Apart from the Sparkly. Oh and Edward does not actually marry another girl. The ending is kind of ridiculous with no logic, no backstory, no world building to substantiate the surface claims. The romance is even more lackluster. The main character is not a favourite, she doesn’t even make the top thousand. And I didn’t enjoy this book. At all. I will not be reading the second one.