Friday, July 6, 2012

Book Review - Gail Carriger's Timeless

Timless by Gail Carriger
Published by: Orbit
Publication Date: February 28th, 2012
Format: Paperback, 416 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy

Despite everyone who thought that Alexia would fail in her very unconventional life; living in a vampire's closet, moving a pack of werewolves into London proper after inadvertently displacing them, having her child raised by a rogue, she's actually succeeding. Aside from the few incidences that arise when Prudence needs to be bathed, that is. She has a happy little family. A family that is soon to get a summons from Egypt... a summons that cannot be denied. The Queen of the Alexandria hive of vampires wishes to meet Alexia and this impossible child of hers. Yet, a visit to one of the oldest hives must be hidden from other vampires. Alexia concocts a great plan, using Ivy and her wildly and inexplicably popular acting troupe as cover, to not only get her family to Egypt, but to provide cover. Because, visiting vampires would be odd, travelling with an acting troupe, now that's logical!

Yet in Egypt, Alexia learns that there is much more going on than she thought possible, the most surprising though is the vampires', not just love of Ivy's play, but sheer adoration of it. The most dangerous though is the expansion of the God-Breaker Plague. The plague that only effects the supernaturals, by turning them human. Now that she's where the plague broke out, Alexia feels it her duty to find out what is really going on in Egypt. From kidnappings to airship nomads, transformations to life ending decisions, Alexia will face it all... but more importantly, how will Biffy keep it all together on the homefront?

Such a bitter sweet ending. Yet, there's a part of me that is relieved it's over. I know, you'll think I'm crazy, but the truth is, better to end while everything is still perfect, before the inevitable decline with an extended series. Also, it's not as if we are saying goodbye to this world, or even to some of these characters, we must never forget, a fair amount of the characters are now immortal. We still have the Finishing School Books, the first one coming out next year, and eventually the Parasol Protectorate Abroad. So we'll have pre and post Parasol books to look forward to! Yet, in all this talk of beginnings and endings, I'm failing to talk about the book at hand. Firstly, I must declare my love of the toddler Prudence. The fact that her powers are temporarily taking another supernaturals powers, thereby making her temporarily a vampire or werewolf, leads to some of the funniest scenes of a little wolf cub racing around the streets trying to avoid a bath. This image is just so right, just so Charles Addams, I will forever think of this and laugh. Yes, I had to pause there to laugh a little to myself. Yes, I know this gets me strange looks, but, that's just me.

Overall there where many things I loved and a few things that I just felt didn't work out quite right. Biffy and his developing powers has, I think, once and for all killed the "Poor Biffy" fan bases right to say that. No longer just a victim of fate, Biffy has an amazing future to look forward to. Ivy and her play about the impossible relationship between a werewolf and a vampire queen was beyond hilarious, as are Maccon's reactions to the play, also, wonderful foreshadowing. Egypt, ah, I love Egypt. Yet... I don't know... Egypt felt flat. Maybe it's just because I felt the time spent in the nomad's dirigibles too reminiscent of the second Mummy movie, or the actual discovery of what was causing the God-Breaker plague to be tainted by Floote and the weird people on snails. Yes, there are weird people on snails... very Steampunk... very odd.

What I liked though was that in this book, Gail took the time to flesh out not only what was happening with the crew in Egypt, but a fair amount of time was spent in England, therefore giving us more time with all the characters. Instead of just being about Alexia and Maccon, for the first time it really felt like a book for all the characters. No one was slighted and a perfect balance of all was given, which I felt was lacking in some of the previous books. Yet, even with this balance, I felt the plot unification a little clunky. Everything in this book, in all the books, happened for a reason, yet until the end, it sometimes didn't feel as such. While I obviously don't want to know everything all the time and be able to predict the outcomes, I felt like the ending was a puzzle that was just missing one or two pieces because my cat ran off with them (note, this has happened). A near perfect ending. Nearly. Though, Maccon's final decision, that was pure perfection.

Moste Importante Steampunkery:
The tribes protecting the God-Breaker plague on their Snails. Now, yes, above I did comment that I thought them odd, and I do, but I don't think you can get more Steampunky than them. Much like my double standards of the Octomaton, the snails win. Also, am I the only one who instantly thinks of the man on the racing snail from The Neverending Story? Because, personally, I thought that guy was awesome and didn't realize until I looked up the picture that it's Deep Roy from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! Dandy's on snails, you can't really lose I guess...


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