The Accidental Teen Book, Vol. 5: Zombie/Steampunk Awesomeness Edition

Well, hello there!’  I know it’s been a long time since my last ATB post (and I know I promised an anti-Twilight edition; it’s still in the works…).’  But I’m back, and this one’s more fun than a barrel of… well, you know.

Now, I don’t claim to know a lot, but there are a few things I do know:

  1. Zombies are cool
  2. Airships are cool
  3. Steampunk is cooler than cool
  4. Seattle is cool (or so I’ve heard…never been there, actually)

So imagine how beyond cool beans with extra hot sauce a book would be if it threw all of these things together, and even had a cool teen protagonist (with an even cooler mom!)!

Enter Cherie Priest, and our latest ATB: The zombie and steampunk-filled tour-de-force, Boneshaker.

It has been 16 years since inventor Leviticus Blue, supposedly attempting to test a massive drilling machine (the ‘Boneshaker’) to support the gold rush trail between Seattle and Alaska, released a deadly gas that turns people into the living dead.’  The resulting cataclysm has left the Seattle of 1879 a walled-off dead zone, populated by shambling flesh-eaters (called “rotters” herein) and mysterious bands of survivors who have refused to leave.’  The name of Blue has become a curse to the inhabitants of the city outskirts, and life is particularly hard for Blue’s widow, Briar, and their teenage son Ezekiel.

After a lifetime of taunts and fights, Zeke is determined to clear the family name, and he sneaks into the city in search of his father’s house.’  Briar, angered and terrified, sets out as well, determined to bring him back safe.’  To find their way out alive they must find each other while facing air pirates, mad scientists, and an army of the groaning living dead!’  Helped along the way by the city’s strange and steadfast residents (as well as a few colorful and crusty airship captains), the two eventually make their way towards Leviticus’ workshop, where the final mystery is solved, and the terrible secret Briar has been keeping is revealed.

Beyond the obvious cool factors, the draw here for teens is Zeke – an angry, idealistic 15-year-old who is determined, bright and fearless – even if he has no bloody idea what he’s getting himself into.’  Much of the journey of Zeke and Briar is about a mother and son learning to trust, and be truthful with each other, even if it hurts; a journey many teens (and their parents) are probably going through themselves.

Boneshaker is a natural fit with Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan, and Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn series.’  It’s been fairly buzzed about, and is likely already in your library’s adult SF section.

Now go steal it and put in your teen area.

About Ken Petrilli

I'm the Teen Services Librarian at the New Rochelle Public Library in New Rochelle, NY, and I'm currently co-convenor for YALSA's Intellectual Freedom Interest Group and Chair for the Baker & Taylor Conference Grant Jury. When I'm not being a librarian I'm being a heavy metal guitar player, a hopeless otaku and a general all-around pop-culture junkie.
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  1. Ooooh…love steampunk! And with zombies, that’s a fun twist…
    Leviathan was awesome and now I’ll have to add this to my list of books to read.

  2. Steampunk and zombies have just about jumped the shark… let’s be on the bleeding edge of what teens find interesting and compelling, rather than falling dangerously behind the curve.

  3. I love that you loved this book! I’m about 1/4 of the way through it and so far it’s everything you’ve promised it could be 😀 When I get done with it, I pledge to make sure our teens get an eyeful. Do you think Boneshaker may be an Alex pick in 2010?

  4. well, it certainly meets all the criteria:-) hopefully some SF genrefluent member of the committee has read it and thought it was as nifty as i did…(are you listening, Alex folks? huh? HUH?)

  5. I’m about halfway through it, and you’re right, it’s great! I can’t wait for vacation to start so I can finish it!! Steampunk is just catching on in my area, and I know a few teens who will love this book.

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