Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit, 2009
Where and why: I borrowed it from a friend who said it was awesome. And it sounded awesome.
I thought it was about time to post a new review, instead of my ramblings. This book's a bit different. It's written for an adult audience, but it won the Alex Award, an award given to books written for adults that would appeal to teens. I have to agree, this would be great for a teen audience.
Alexia Tarabotti, a 26-year-old spinster with Italian blood (scandalous!), is dragged into some shady dealings; all simply because she has no soul. Her soullessness has an interesting effect on the supernatural—she neutralizes their powers. Now she must deal with Lord Conall Maccon, a deliciously dreamy yet completely infuriating werewolf in charge of a government department that deals with supernatural issues. Not to mention the danger that comes along with knowing far too much than is good for her. Unfortunately, she does love to know too much.
This was a quirky, fun read set in steampunk Victorian-era England in which vampires, werewolves, ghosts and the preternatural all exist in society together. The proper language and manners set a great tone—appropriate to the setting, and hilarious. Especially since inappropriate things tend to happen to Miss Tarabotti, constantly.
There are lots of reasons this would resonate with teens. It has all the usual stuff, like romance, intrigue, mystery, and vampires, werewolves, not to mention all the delicious-sounding descriptions of food I wish I could afford to eat all the time. Alexia loves food and doesn't care who knows it—something I wish I saw more of in teen lit. Plus, it's chock full of laugh-out-loud humor. I found myself giggling constantly.
Alexia is extremely intelligent. She knows all there is to know about "modern" machines (which, of course, are very different from what you'd expect in Victorian England, since this is a steampunk fantasy), and she's very interested in all things science—another reason to cheer for her. Not many science girls out there in the teen lit world (if I'm wrong, feel free to correct me in the comments!).
She also doesn't care at all what her family thinks of her. They constantly wish she were more mild, less imposing, less intelligent, less obnoxious, and prettier. Her mother and half sisters are quite insipid, and it's funny to see the way they react to Alexia's exploits and manners.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to teens out there who are looking for something supernatural, funny or steampunk. If you like any of these things in books, you'd probably like this one. I have the second one, Changeless, waiting for me to finish my summer course so I have time to read it. Can't wait!