Home > Book, Genre, GLBTQ, Reading Challenges, Review, steampunk > Book Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger (Series, #1) (Bottom of TBR Pile Challenge)

Book Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger (Series, #1) (Bottom of TBR Pile Challenge)

Woman holding parasol in front of city skyline.Summary:
Alexia Tarabotti isn’t just suffering from being half-Italian in Victorian England, she also is soulless.  Unlike vampires, werewolves, and other supernaturals who successfully changed thanks to an excess of soul, or even having just enough soul like day dwellers, she simply has none. Plus as a preternatural she turns the supernaturals human when she touches them.  Obviously they aren’t a fan of that.  Except for one particularly persnickety werewolf, Lord Maccon, who is Scottish to boot.  And to top it all off a mysterious wax-faced man suddenly seems very interested in kidnapping her.  None of this seems particularly civilized.

Review:
The Parasol Protectorate series was all the rage when this book made it onto my tbr pile back in 2010.  That was kind of the beginning of the steampunk craze, before you could find gears on everything in the costume shop.  I can see why this series is popular, but it’s just not my cup of tea.

The world building is wonderful and is what kept me reading.  A good steampunk blends history, science, and fashion to make for a semi-familiar but deliciously unique world that’s delightful for history and science geeks alike to play around in.  Carriger pulls this off beautifully.  The fashion is Victorian with a steampunk edge.  The politics are recognizable but with the supernatural and steampowered sciences taking a role.  A great example of how well this world works is that in England the supernatural came out and became part of society, whereas America was the result of the Puritans condemning the acceptance of the supernatural who they believe sold their souls to the devil.  This is a great blend of reality and alternate history.

The plot wasn’t a huge mystery, which is kind of sad given the complexity of the world building.  What really bothered me though was the romantic plot, which suffered badly from a case of instalove.  Although we hear of delightful prior encounters between Alexia and Lord Maccon, we didn’t see them.  We mostly see him going from hating her to loving her and demanding her hand in marriage. It just felt lazy compared to the other elements of the book.  I get it that Carriger could be poking fun at Victorian era romances, but I think that would have worked better if it didn’t have such a Victorian ending.  Plus, I didn’t pick up this book to read a romance. I wanted a steampunk mystery with a strong female lead.  I didn’t like how quickly the romance took over the whole plot.

Potential readers should take a glance at the first chapter and see if Carriger’s humor works for them.  I can see how if I was laughing through the whole book I’d have enjoyed it more, but the…decidedly British humor just did not work for me.  It didn’t bother me; I just didn’t find it funny.  I mostly sat there going, “Oh, she thinks she’s being funny…..”  Humor is highly personal, so I’m not saying it’s bad. It just isn’t my style. It might be yours.

Overall this is a creatively complex steampunk world with an unfortunately average plot overtaken by instaromance and seeped in dry, British humor.  It is recommended to steampunk fans who find that style of humor amusing and don’t mind some instalove all up in their story.  That does not describe this reader, so I won’t be continuing on with the series.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: PaperBackSwap

Buy It

Advertisements
  1. October 24, 2012 at 12:08 am

    I totally agree; I had the exact same reaction to this book. I can see why people like this series, but it was too much going on and not enough solid characterization and writing to back it up. Oh well.

    • October 24, 2012 at 9:33 am

      “Too much going on” is a great way to sum it up!

  2. October 24, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I remember really enjoying this book. The world building was excellent and the humour was good for me but then I am British. Now you mention it though I wasn’t keen on the instaromance (great term by the way, going to have to steal that!). Also in hindsight I probably read this book right in the middle of its hype which you said was about 2010…I still haven’t got round to the rest of the series. Maybe I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought?

    • October 25, 2012 at 9:53 am

      Man, can you imagine being British and not liking British humor? That’d be like….being American and not liking apple pie or bbqs. 😉

      I’m curious to see if you wind up picking up the next book in the series now that you’ve been reminded of it!

      • October 25, 2012 at 10:18 am

        Interesting point Amanda…you have got me thinking about this series again! Won’t be picking the next book up anytime soon though got a substantial tbr pile to get down first 😛

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: