Sunday, October 5, 2014

Review: The Boundless

The BoundlessTitle: The Boundless
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Genre: Fantasy, Alternative History

A Quick Introduction: The Boundless  is the greatest train in the world- hundreds of two-story cars bound for Victoria, British Columbia, from Halifax. When Will, first-class passenger and son of a railroad executive, gains possession of a key to a car containing priceless treasures, he finds himself target of a ruthless man from his past. To stay alive, Will joins a traveling circus, and attempts, with the help of the ringmaster and escape artist, to reach his father and warn him before it is too late. But, as they hurtle through the unknown, Will finds that even those helping him have  ulterior motives, and that not only those on the train pose a threat.

Out of Ten: 6/10

Review at a Glance: An alright read, but it's characters, plot and world didn't meet my expectations.

Review: This book was alright, it just wasn't quite at the standard that I expected. It was fine, but it didn't capture me as some of Kenneth Oppel's other works did. I've read both The Silverwing trilogy, which I enjoyed and The Matt Cruse trilogy (Airborn, Skybreaker and Starclimber), which is one of my favourites, and this book just didn't work as well for me as either of them.

The world building was something of a weakness in this book, it was just somewhat unclear what exactly did and didn't happen in the world. The lack of structure made it somewhat difficult to fully invest in the story. The Sasquatches worked for me but everything else didn't seem to fit with the world up until then.

Another thing that made it challenging to cultivate any interest in the story was the characters. They just didn't make me feel anything- not even a vague sense of interest. There just wasn't anything about them that I liked about them. Nothing about them felt very real to me, not their interests, or, really, any of their choices.

This book is told from third person, in present tense, which is a perspective that I don't read much of (I'm not a huge fan of present tense narration). The perspective is generally limited to Will, the main character, and Brogan, his main adversary. They style of the storytelling distanced me from the characters.

All this said, I loved the idea of the Boundless itself. A giant train? Yes please. This is the tale of the Boundless's maiden voyage, so it was interesting to see the cracks that were already showing in the social structure on the train, and how the train was designed. It also acknowledged the darker sides of the building of the railroad- the treatment of the rail layers, especially immigrant workers, as well as the treatment of Native peoples in Canada's history. Seriously, anyone who thinks Canada has this super-nice history where people didn't get hurt should have a look at a residential school for starters. This country definitely has some dark blots in our history... but I digress.

Overall, I felt parts of the story had potential, but it didn't really bear fruit for me. In the end, it wasn't really for me, I don't think- it just didn't hit enough notes for me, personally, as a reader.

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