Monday, May 21, 2012

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

Genre:  YA Steampunk Fantasy

Description (taken from Maureen Doyle McQuerry's website):
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.

When I first started this book, I found out very quickly that I can really relate to Lena in a way that I've never been able to relate to other characters.  To put it simply, her hands and feet are quite peculiar, and so are mine.  What stems from a genetic condition in her case is an environmental birth defect in my instance.  But there were quite a few spots in the book that I could totally relate (like always paying attention to people's hands, hiding your own, struggling with other people's prejudices, etc).  And I was really happy to finally see Lena leave her shell and not be afraid to be who she is and show off her hands at the end of the book because it took me about 17 years to be able to do the same thing.

But now I have to go back to the book and its plot.  To put things bluntly, this novel fell short of my expectations.  The author does an excellent job of weaving tales between historical facts, and I loved being able to relate my history knowledge to the book.  But I think the characters fell flat for me.  To me, I saw zero romance growth throughout the book and the ending bothered me because of this.  Also, nothing really gets answered.  What's a Peculiar?  Obviously someone who doesn't look normal.  I guess I'm a Peculiar then.  But what does that mean?  I have no idea...

Who should read this?  I believe fans of steampunk and fantasy novels should consider adding this to their to-read pile.  However, it's not something I would tell people they need to read right this instance.

Thanks goes to Abrams and Netgalley for providing me a review copy.

Challenges:  Young Adult Reading Challenge

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