Seventeen-year-old Clark Treasure assumes the drink he stole off the captain is absinthe… until the chemicals in the liquid give him the ability to awaken the dead.
A great invention for creating perfect soldiers, yes, but Clark wants to live as a miner, not a slave to the army—or the deceased. On the run, Clark turns to his estranged, mining tycoon father for help.
Sixteen-year-old Amethyst Treasure loathes the idea of spending the summer away from her bustling city life to rot on her father’s ranch, but when a handsome young man shows up claiming to be her secret half-brother, her curiosity is piqued. (Shortened synopsis from Goodreads)
(ARC was given through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Overall Impression: This is more of a lusty teenage romance novel than an action packed steampunk western.
Recommended for: Fans of teenage romance.
This book started off all right, but then gradually went downhill. I found the idea behind the book interesting and thought that this new power that Clark discovers he gets after he drinks this potion would create a great way to examine his character throughout the book. How does he choose who lives and dies? What are the consequences of this power? However, his power is never completely explained, but it almost sounds like there isn’t much of a downside other than the army is chasing after him. He can bring people back from the dead soon after they die. The only catch it seems is that if he touches someone soon after this, they will die. Yet, this “side-effect” wears off after a few minutes. This left me wondering throughout the book how this could be a bad thing. There is no inner struggle before he raises the dead since there really aren’t any consequences. The only thing he worries about is being found out, which seems pretty minor compared to if the whole touching someone afterward side-effect was more permanent, or lasted longer than a few minutes. This way, Clark would have to be more careful about the people that he chooses to save since the consequences could more extreme, and decisions would give us better insight into his character.
I also found it really difficult to attach myself to these characters. Clark was all right, but his character could have some more building which may have been helped by an increase in the consequences of his power like I was talking about above. He remains mostly the same throughout the book, and while it appears that this book is going to be part of a series, a little bit of character growth is required to keep things interesting.
However, at least I kind of liked Clark. It was Amethyst that I mostly had a problem with. She’s spoiled, rude, and kind of useless. At some point, she felt more like a romantic/sexual object of Clark’s rather than an actual character. She doesn’t become less spoiled by the end of the book. If anything, she is worse, and I couldn’t see what Clark saw in her other than the fact that she was attractive. She doesn’t do much except get into trouble, and most of the time she can’t even come close to saving herself. At one point, it looked like she was going to start becoming a little less damsel-in-distressy when she insists that Clark teach her how to shoot a gun, but this ends up going no where.
I think the most disappointing thing about this book was that it was completely not what I was expecting to read, and not in a “this was surprisingly good” way. The cover led me to believe that it was going to be mostly about a badass female protagonist and be an awesome steampunk adventure. Well, it’s not. It’s actually more a teenage romance novel with some steampunk elements.
It doesn’t help that halfway through the book, it basically changes genre. The first half of the book did follow the whole adventure thing that I was expecting, albeit with some issues. However, practically right when you hit the middle of the book, it changes into a straight up romance novel. Everything that was an issue in the first half goes by the wayside and kind of comes up near the end of the book, but not really. It was jarring and confusing.
This book did not work for me, since I’m not huge on overt teenage romance, (meaning I don’t like the romance to be the main focus of the book) but I know that plenty of others do. For them, this book may be enjoyable, but this was not my cup of tea.