Nurse Mercy Lynch is elbows deep in bloody laundry at a war hospital in Richmond, Virginia, when Clara Barton comes bearing bad news: Mercy’s husband has died in a POW camp. On top of that, a telegram from the west coast declares that her estranged father is gravely injured, and he wishes to see her. Mercy sets out toward the Mississippi River. Once there, she’ll catch a train over the Rockies and—if the telegram can be believed—be greeted in Washington Territory by the sheriff, who will take her to see her father in Seattle.
Reaching the Mississippi is a harrowing adventure by dirigible and rail through war-torn border states. When Mercy finally arrives in St. Louis, the only Tacoma-bound train is pulled by a terrifying Union-operated steam engine called the Dreadnought. Reluctantly, Mercy buys a ticket and climbs aboard.
What ought to be a quiet trip turns deadly when the train is beset by bushwhackers, then vigorously attacked by a band of Rebel soldiers. The train is moving away from battle lines into the vast, unincorporated west, so Mercy can’t imagine why they’re so interested. Perhaps the mysterious cargo secreted in the second and last train cars has something to do with it?
Mercy is just a frustrated nurse who wants to see her father before he dies. But she’ll have to survive both Union intrigue and Confederate opposition if she wants to make it off the Dreadnought alive. (from Amazon)
As much as I liked Boneshaker, I like Dreadnought EVEN MORE, and so writing this review will be difficult as I’m determined to not lapse into fangirlish squeals– which is why it’ll be short. Basically: Dreadnought is really, REALLY good.
What’s good about it? Lemme list it for ya: zombies! trains! airships! mecha! big action sequences! a strong, independent female lead! (with guns!) a dashingly gruff Texan ranger! soldiers and spies and mad scientists! excellent writing! LOTS OF FUN!!
If that paragraph up there doesn’t convince you to freakin’ buy this book (and Boneshaker) already, I don’t know what will. Maybe this: Dreadnought was the most fun I had with a book since the last time I read a Diana Wynne Jones books. It’s definitely going on my “top books read in 2010” list, and I’m going to recommend it to everyone I know.
Some people have expressed annoyance with the fact that Mercy supposedly doesn’t show emotions. I take exception to that, because a) she DOES show emotions, she just doesn’t let them drip out all over the place every other page, and b) she’s a freakin’ war nurse. Isn’t it a good thing that she’s not overly emotional and having breakdowns everywhere? The ability to be stoic when the situation calls for it is something I’d want in my war nurse, seriously.
Oh, and there’s also no romance, which I appreciated because it would have been completely unnecessary. And you know how unnecessary romance irritates me! (Although I do look forward to a possible romance subplot later on with Mercy! I love Mercy. Mercy is one of my favorite characters. Yes.)
Oh, and the only thing I didn’t like was the reveal of the who the spy was, because it didn’t make sense to me and I kept thinking it was a red herring– but wasn’t, apparently. Sort of a downer, that subplot.
Also the ending was a bit fast, but I’m assuming that part of the story will continue in another book and so I didn’t mind it so much. ANYWAY. Still a wonderful book, and buy it buy it buy it! (Please? And while you’re at it buy Pirate Talk or Mermalade as well. Also any Diana Wynne Jones book, and then we will be best friends!)
What book has made you squeal like a hyperactive three-year-old lately?
Read: October 1-8, 2010
The universe that Dreadnought is set in has an awesome official website with lots of goodies.
Read the first chapter of Dreadnought online here!