A website dedicated to books in the Young Adult genre, featuring book reviews, author interviews contests and much more!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Book Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger


SYNOPSIS: Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she is being rudely attacked by a vampire to whom she has not been properly introduced!

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire, and the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible.

Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? And who is the real enemy . . . and do they have treacle tart?

REVIEW: In a market saturated with so many supernatural themed books, after awhile they all start to blend into one another. It was so refreshing to pick up something as unique and creative like Soulless. I was completely blindsided by this book and thoroughly addicted right from page one. When you find yourself compelled to intermittently text your friends about how hilarious a book is, well then you know you have a winner!

To mix things up a bit - I broke it down for you with a listing of my favorite aspects--

S is for steampunk. What is steampunk you ask? Before reading Soulless I had never heard of this sub-genre of fantasy and speculative fiction. According to Gail Carriger's website she says:

There are two main kinds of steampunk. The first, which shall be called here, traditional steampunk, envisions a future as the Victorians imagined it. The writings of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are good examples. The second, industrial steampunk, sees a far future world that harkens back to Victorian culture, for example a bustle dress made of kevlar.”

Sounds pretty great, right? Well Soulless opened up my eyes to a whole new world and I really enjoyed the elements of steampunk within her novel. One thing that impressed me about Soulless was the unique approach that Carriger took in regards to the steampunk elements. All the technological advancements in Alexia's world were due to the contributions and workings of immortals, particularly vampires – not humans. I found this to be a very interesting twist to the world within the Soulless.

O is for Outrageous ensembles and personalities. One of my favorite aspects was the fashion of the time period. I particularly enjoyed Lord Akeldama's clothing choices, which leads me to my next point. The secondary characters of this novel were just as intriguing to me as the protagonist, Alexia Tarabotti. With his flamboyant wardrobe choices and grandiose manner of speaking, Lord Akeldama was easily my favorite.

U is for umbrellas, or to be more accurate, "parasols". Look at the cover of Soulless. That is no ordinary looking parasol. It is a very important article to Alexia, and I never thought I would say this, but oh how I would love to own that parasol!

L is for Lord Maccon. Lord Maccon is head of the government’s supernatural investigations division (Bureau of Unnatural Registry - BUR) sent to investigate the disappearances of various supernatural persons. He is also an alpha werewolf and their leader. The romantic sparks between him and Alexia practically flew off the pages and their interactions were what I most enjoyed about Soulless. I loved their verbal sparring sessions…and of course there is that unfortunate "hedgehog" incident.

L is for the legacy of the vampires. Gail Carriger presented a very credible back story- not only about Alexia and Lord Maccon’s history but more importantly about the vampires themselves. It made sense why they would fit so well into the upper echelon of Victorian society and make Great Britain the dominant nation it was.

E is for exceptional writing. I was so drawn in by Gail Carriger's writing style. This is one writer who really knows how to deliciously turn a phrase. Time and time again, I found myself literally laughing out loud from the exciting banter between her characters and the inner workings of Alexia's mind.

S is for Supernaturals. Werewolves, vampires, ghosts- Soulless has it all. But hands down, the best supernatural character that Gail Carriger has created would have to be the "preternaturals". Preternaturals are those without soul who nullify the powers of other supernatural creatures with one touch. This unique capability made the novel even more intriguing for me.

S is for Spinsters. Although it's disturbing to think that a twenty-six year old vibrant woman such as Alexia could be labeled a "spinster", such was the fate for woman in her position. Despite her so called "flaws" of being too tan, too Italian (shocking) or having a long nose, Alexia was confident in her abilities and definitely knew how to handle herself. If I had to accept the fate of a spinster, I would want to be one as witty, smart and exciting as Alexia.

To sum up, Soulless was a rip roaring good time. Gail Carriger seamlessly blends quirky supernatural characters, romance and mystery into a winning combination. I absolutely can’t wait to read her future novels and am ecstatic for Changeless, the sequel to Soulless. All hail the victorious parasol!

Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages
Publisher: Orbit (September 29, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316056634
ISBN-13: 978-0316056632
Buy at Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Indiebound

Ms. Carriger began writing in order to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning.

Ms. Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She now resides in the Colonies, surrounded by a harem of Armenian lovers, where she insists on tea imported directly from London and cats that pee into toilets. She is fond of teeny tiny hats and tropical fruit. Soulless is her first book.

Gail Carriger is the author of Soulless a novel of vampires, dirigibles, and parasols due out Oct. 1, 2009 from Orbit US. You can find Gail on her website, livejournal, blogspot, Facebook, and Twitter.


The Book Owl said...

I wasn't sure if I was going to read this, but after your review I know I must! Great review!

Dani. said...

That was so cut how you did the
thing. :)
Loved it.


Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

I've only been hearing great things about this book, and, after your review, I definitely need to check it out! And cute review, loved the letters at the side. :)

Kate said...

Great review! I love the SOULLESS part.

Kate said...

Great review! I love the SOULLESS part.

Nicole Settle said...

I just finished reading this book a couple days ago and I loved it. I read so many great reviews that I went and bought it for myself. I thought it was very unique. I'm with you in recommending this book to others!

Misty said...

You had me at dirigibles and parasols. And that cover! You know I;m a sucker for a good cover.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I'm in love with the idea of the steampunk genre. I can't wait to pick this one up! Thanks for the review...


ok, you got me. and i don't know how you did it. but it will definately have to be added on one of the wish lists. thank you?


here you go http://hodgepodgespv.blogspot.com/2009/10/book-review-soulless-by-gail-carriger.html

Alyssa F said...

Thank you for defining steampunk! I've heard that tossed around a bit lately and I've never been able to figure it out.

Alyssa F said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lori Johnston said...

What a FANTASTIC review. I am going to my TBR list right now to add this book.
Great work!

Tales of Whimsy said...

Love the drop down thing. Very smart and different. Bravo!


Lenore Appelhans said...

What a fun format :)