Author: Richard Harland
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
I was very unsure when I first picked up this book at the library. A book I'd never heard of, from an author I knew nothing about, in a genre that's still considered cutting-edge and somewhat experimental... but, I figured, it's just the library. I can always bring it back if I don't like it.
To my delighted relief, however, I loved this book!
At 16 years old, the main character Colbert Porpentine knows nothing about anything outside of his highly sheltered and controlled Victorian life on the upper decks of the massive juggernaut Worldshaker. When he's told that the 'Filthies' who live in the bottom decks, 'Below', are mindless, animal-like creatures with no emotions, no capacity for intelligent thought, no ability even to speak or understand speech, he believes it. When he's told that the 'Menials' - slow, speechless creatures who serve the upper classes - are Filthies who have been improved with intense training, he believes it. His whole life consists of social functions, and training to succeed his grandfather as Supreme Commander of the Worldshaker.
Until a Filthy escapes and accidentally finds her way into his life. Amazingly, she can speak and think and learn, and she seems completely human. What else has Col been told that isn't true?
Honestly, I couldn't put this book down. From beginning to end, it kept me eagerly turning pages and didn't get boring a single time. The action and character development are great, and the story has a thrilling plot as well as a great message, all in an amazing steampunk setting the likes of which you've never seen before. But on top of that, there is the added delight of a story that contains absolutely no language, and no inappropriate scenes. There was one scene that was the slightest bit suggestive, but the suggestiveness lasted for maybe two sentences, literally, and as I said, it was very slight.
The only thing I can say that would come close to a complaint would be the dark, brutal violence of the story. The darkness itself, I don't have so much a problem with because of the message of the story. You have to have darkness to show light, after all. But the violence towards the end of the book, as things started coming to a head, was very brutal and bloody in places, which I didn't like. I understand that realistic violence is bloody and brutal, but we all know that. We don't need to see it in technicolor.
The only other thing was the few instances in which some of the non-central characters seemed to make choices for which there was no prior suggestion in their character. The readers are left with a little bit of the where-did-that-come-from? feeling, since we were given no reason to think a particular character had it in them to make that particular decision. (I can't give specifics lest I give something away.) But it wasn't an overpowering thing, and I was able to enjoy the story in spite of it.
I would definitely say that Worldshaker is a book for older readers, simply because of the violence factor. Otherwise, a great read that I really, really loved!