Tuesday, 15 November 2011
Cons: the first 5 pages are a bit over the top, get past them and the rest of the book is fabulous
The Importance of Being Earnest meets Twelfth Night in this fabulously written debut novel. Violet Adams has a plan to attend the illustrious school of science, Illyria, by dressing the year as her twin brother Ashton. Being a man is more difficult than Violet considered, and it turns out to be quite an interesting year, filled with experimentation, drinking, exploring the labyrinthine basement of the school, blackmail, avoiding the love of Cicely (ward of Illyria's duke) and dealing with her own complicated feelings towards said duke.
This is a delightful romp that could well have been written by Oscar Wilde himself. It has the feel of Victorian literature, with subtle wit and constant references to things of the period.
As a steampunk novel there's a lot of experimentation going on, but very little scientific explanation, so those who want a more hard SF feel should look elsewhere, while those wishing for a book to ease someone into genre should think of this as the perfect gift.
The plot becomes more and more complex as new characters are added, each with their own plans that interfere with those of the others. And the characters are all complex. Rosen takes a few pages here and there to flesh out even minor characters so their motivations are understood. And while he jumps between heads often, it's always clear whose thoughts you're following.
This book made me laugh, out loud, at several points. It also made me cry. Can't ask for more than that.