Friday, May 4, 2012

Review: The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

Title: The Peculiars
Author: Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: YA, Steampunk
Rating: 2/5

Synopsis: 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.

Review: Before I even go into this review, I have to be very clear that I DID NOT finish this book. I will go into the reasons as to why, and why it's actually not a 1-star book, but I know some people don't consider DNF reviews as real you can stop reading if you're one of those. :)

The story centers on Lena Mattacascar, an 18-year-old girl who was born with a sort of oddity - extremely long, goblin-like, hands and feet. She decides to take a journey into Scree, the land where Peculiars live, to hopefully find her father who left when Lena was just a baby. She is convinced that the odd traits she has must be attributed to him, as she knows very little about who she is.

I was completely in love with the first 25% of the book. I haven't really read any steampunk in the past and I was enthralled with the descriptions of scenery, Victorian clothing and transportation. I thought the characters were a little...meh...but there was still time for them to redeem themselves before I would consider dropping the book. The biggest problems for me started occurring after Lena had arrived at Knob Knoster and began working under Mr. Beasley at the Zephyr House. Instead of taking this time was a way to develop the characters into likeable roles, it was then that they really, REALLY started to irritate me. Everyone was too much! Pansy was TOO bratty, Lena was TOO ignorant, and the others TOO nonchalant. 

What was the deal breaker for me was Lena - gullible and far too easily trusting of the wrong people. I really don't want to give too much away (and I guess I'm not since this part is mentioned in the synopsis), but the mere fact that she trusted the Marshal, Thomas Saltre, enough so that he could coax her into spying on Mr. Beasley really disgusted me. I know she's been kind of sheltered but hello? She's 18 years old AND the book makes a point of mentioning how distrusting she is of strangers, who have often ridiculed her for her odd physical traits. 

The point where I absolutely could not read anymore was when Lena finds out the truth about what is going on at the Zephyr House and, instead of feeling guilty about "selling out" Mr. Beasley to the Marshal, she feels PITY for HERSELF! Umm what?! You've been sharing secrets and stealing Mr. Beasley's private books, yet your first instinct is to get offended because of what you think their intent was in hiring you? If I recall correctly (and I do), you kinda barged in there yourself looking for answers. Then, even after knowing the truth and being so dishonest, she still decides to let Thomas act out his plan for the Zephyr House. At this point, I knew there was no way Lena could redeem herself in my eyes. I really and truly wanted to slap her for the choices she made and how disgusting she acted.

Whoo! That was a big rant to get off my chest but man, I love me a strong and smart heroine and Lena Mattacascar was neither.  It was for this reason that this was a big DNF for me, and a two star book. Maybe other readers are not as quick to anger if their heroine has no redeeming qualities, but for me, nuh uh!

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