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Priest, Cherie: The Inexplicables

The Inexplicables (2012)
Author: Cherie Priest
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Science-Fiction / Steampunk / Alternative History / Horror
Pages: 366 (trade paperback)
Series: Clockwork Century #5


Rector “Wreck ‘em” Sherman was orphaned as a toddler in the Blight of 1863, but that was years ago. Wreck has grown up, and on his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be cast out out of the orphanage.

And Wreck’s problems aren’t merely about finding a home. He’s been quietly breaking the cardinal rule of any good drug dealer and dipping into his own supply of the sap he sells. He’s also pretty sure he’s being haunted by the ghost of a kid he used to know—Zeke Wilkes, who almost certainly died six months ago. Zeke would have every reason to pester Wreck, since Wreck got him inside the walled city of Seattle in the first place, and that was probably what killed him. Maybe it’s only a guilty conscience, but Wreck can’t take it anymore, so he sneaks over the wall.

The walled-off wasteland of Seattle is every bit as bad as he’d heard, chock-full of the hungry undead and utterly choked by the poisonous, inescapable yellow gas. And then there's the monster. Rector's pretty certain that whatever attacked him was not at all human—and not a rotter, either. Arms far too long. Posture all strange. Eyes all wild and faintly glowing gold and known to the locals as simply "The Inexplicables."

In the process of tracking down these creatures, Rector comes across another incursion through the wall -- just as bizarre but entirely attributable to human greed. It seems some outsiders have decided there's gold to be found in the city and they're willing to do whatever it takes to get a piece of the pie unless Rector and his posse have anything to do with it.


Why I Read It: I think this series a ton of fun. I was all caught up at the end of September (I even got my hands on Clementine), so I bought this almost as soon as it came out. Too bad it took me until 2013 to read it though.

This installment of the Clockwork Century series is a bit of a break from the others: for one, our main protagonist is NOT female. Instead, we get the point of view of Rector Sherman, a character who was introduced in Boneshaker and we haven't seen since. There's another huge difference here as well, but I don't want to reveal it due to spoilers. It's a really neat twist though, and one I didn't expect Priest to take. We do get a dose of the familiar as well: we're back in Seattle, and many of the characters who were featured prominently in the other novels in this series pretty much all make an appearance here (since pretty much everyone, with a few exceptions, has ended up in Seattle.) So it was pretty cool seeing everyone come together in one book.

I do have to say that this is probably my least favourite book in the series so far though. This was largely due to our main character Rector; due to his crappy upbringing, Rector doesn't trust anyone and looks out for himself first and foremost. While I knew that, logically, Rector's behaviour made sense and was congruous with his character and history, he still annoyed the crap out of me. I hated that he didn't trust anyone; I hated how ungrateful he was to the people who took him in, gave him a place to stay, and feed to eat; I hated how he treated Zeke (like an annoyance), and especially how he treated Huey (Rector's insecure about his intelligence and capabilities and sees Huey as a threat, so he's constantly defensive around him). Again, in my head it all made sense why he treated these people the way he did, but it was still hard for me as a reader to be stuck in Rector's mind without feeling annoyed.

Action-wise, the plot meanders a bit at the beginning and a bit in the middle. The book really picks up at the end though, and makes for an epic conclusion. This is par for the course with these novels though (in my opinion at least), so I wasn't surprised.

Final Verdict: This isn't my favourite installment in the Clockwork Century series, but there's enough here for long-time fans of the series to enjoy. I, for one, was quite excited to be back in Seattle and to return to many of the characters that have featured prominently in preceding volumes in the series (though mileage may vary there.) What I wasn't so fond of was Rector's voice; I largely found him to be a grating and annoying character, but this is purely a personal thing. His reasons and motivations for behaving the ways he does is sound with his characterization and history (and frankly, understandable), but for me personally, it was difficult being stuck in the head of such a character. Overall though, this is a solid novel and was a lot of fun. I look forward to Fiddlehead, which is due for release in November of this year.

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