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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027
Soulless - Gail Carriger, Gail Carriger I admit it, I buy into steampunk. I love alternate histories, historical in-jokes, sci-fi/paranormal/fantasy aspects, the tech, the description porn, and I have tendency to gravitate to Victoriana historical novels. In conclusion, I’ve been gobbling up steampunk series. The world of Soulless is interesting—I like the defined aspects of how the population is divided into three major groups, and how they all interacted and treated each other. That the “natural” humans would look at the supernaturals with a mix of suspicion and admiration (particularly in being a patron) felt really different. I liked how Carriger specifically sets up her werewolf and vampire societies; I loved the idea that the vampires work very similar to a bee society, with the fear of losing queens and having “rove” vampires. However, the werewolf culture did feel a little redundant at times, such as their courting and cultural aspects, although I did like how they were more patrons of the arts and high society. And while the villains were a bit ill-defined, I did like how their use of science to determine the state of what makes a person super or preternatural. (Not that I condone their purposes, just the use of science.)Alexia is a really defined character. She’s smart and witty without being too overbearing to the reader, and even with her preternatural abilities, she relies mainly on her intelligence to figure out the mystery of the new vampires. I also liked how she didn’t know everything about the supernatural world, so seeing something like the automaton genuinely frightens her. I like her rapport with Lord Maccon, you really get the sense that they’re both able to hold each other’s ground in a verbal fight. I also liked that she doesn’t really despair of being a spinster, and that she uses her unmarried status to continue on with her personal studies and relationships with the supernatural society.I did like Lord Maccon—as I said, his interactions with Alexia felt natural, and that the history between the two was pretty obvious—although I did think that he was a little too reliant on the “animal” nature. The book’s pacing derailed a little whenever he and Alexia got into the heat of the moment, like during the big climatic part when they’re both captured by the villains and things get amorous. There are two big problems that I had with the book, the first being the side characters. The only one I really liked was Professor Lyall; he really gave off the sense of being world-weary and “has seen everything” kind of attitude. He makes a strong foil for Lord Maccon, and from what I’m reading in book 2, this strengthens a lot. I also liked some of the werewolf clavigers and vampire drones that show up, but they really don’t play as a large role. Unfortunately, the two biggest side characters, Lord Akeldama and Alexia’s friend Ivy, feel like the two weakest. There seems to be so much more to Lord Akeldama’s character aside from his foppish vampire mask, and while we get hints of how powerful and threatening he can really be, it doesn’t really show up in the first book. Ivy feels like she’s there to be pitied; I felt like Alexia was only friends with her out of convenience, and the running gag of Ivy liking hideous hats got tiresome.The other problem I had was that Soulless didn’t really feel steampunk-y to me. There’s mention of dirigibles and advanced steam technology, but aside from some plot-importance on the tech near the climax, the tech falls into the background for the majority of the book. It has picked up a lot in book 2 (which does feel a lot more like a steampunk story), but as an introduction, Soulless really feels more like an alternate history novel, with vampires and werewolves publicly running around Victorian England. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Soulless, and wanted to immediately pick up Changeless. It’s a good start to the series, and it’s a good introduction to Alexia’s world, but there’s a few things that needed some tinkering. Definitely a great read, though.