Boneshaker - Cherie Priest In an alternate universe brilliant scientist Leviticus Blue created a machine that would help miners more easily locate and drill for gold. On its first test run things go awry and the machine wreaks havoc on bustling downtown Seattle, killing people and destroying buildings and several banks. But that was only the beginning of the terror . . .

Sixteen years later Briar, the widow of Leviticus, is living with the long lingering after effects of the tragedy. Toxic gasses released from the earth continue to seep out and poison the air and water, turning people into the walking dead. An enormous wall is built to keep the zombie making blight at bay as much as possible. Briar, now a single mother, is shunned and working herself to the bone in the dreary new world her husband created. Having to live with the legacy he left behind is difficult enough to bear but her father also helped several prison inmates escape when the blight entered the prison. Her teenage son, Zeke, insists his grandfather was a hero and enters the walled off hellhole to discover more about him and learn about his father. Now Briar must enter the ruined, toxic city to search for him.

Boneshaker contains some fantastic world building. The world is grey, dreary and meticulously designed. The steampunk aspects all have a place and a genuine reason for being in this world, they’re not just gadgets thrown in willy nilly to enhance the setting. Briar is a protagonist you can get behind. She is thick skinned, exhausted and just trying to survive. Her life seems unbearably depressing and because of circumstances she’s distanced herself from everyone, including her own son and only starts to poke around into his life when he starts asking too many questions. The author gave Briar a believable motive for entering the city that really worked. Unfortunately the book suffers from almost too much busyness, the characters are in continual peril and are on the run, there are baddies, poisonous gas, and zombies hot on their tails. I realize this will be an ongoing series but the constant introduction of new characters in this one didn’t allow me to get to know any of them as well as I would have liked. Also, being the mother of a fourteen year old boy, I found it weird that Zeke was supposed to be fifteen. His thoughts and actions seemed more those of a child a few years younger. Fifteen year olds, for the most part, are surly, self-centered pains in the ass. This kid was too trusting and not very street savvy for his age, especially considering where and how he grew up. If he were twelve I would have bought into the whole thing completely.

Still, it was entertaining and as a huge zombie fan I enjoyed the premise of the blight zombies even though I never felt the nail biting fear that comes with a great zombie novel. My attention waned on and off as parts of the book seemed to drag. I guess I’m just not a full out action kind of girl and there was way too much running about and hiding for me. I would prefer more time spent with the colorful characters interacting with each other than all of the “flee for your life!” stuff.