by Richard Harland
Hardcover: 9781416995524, Simon & Schuster, $16.99, Pub. Date: May 2010
Tween read: Ages 10-14
More steam-punk to add to your list!
Worldshaker is a constantly traveling machine known as a juggernaut, the size of a small city. Classes exist within a rigid hierarchy complete with regal figureheads Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert. Col Porpentine is a child at the top of the Upper Class. He has just been named his grandfather's successor as Supreme Commander of the juggernaut. But with this responsibility comes startling revelations about exactly what the ship is, who the "Filthies" and "Menials" (the lowest of the low classes) really are, and just what his family's role is in all of it. When Col meets Riff, a Filthy girl who turns out to be the Filthy revolution leader, his entire world begins unraveling. Col is forced to make a choice between duty to his family, and his own morality.
At almost 400 pages, Worldshaker is meaty but reads quickly. I would have loved to have heard more about Riff herself, what her history was, how and why she became the leader of the Filthy revolution at 14-years-old, etc. Also, Col's sister could have been a bit more flushed out, and Col's younger brother could have been cut as a character entirely. A couple of plot points were left unresolved, such as what happened to Col's wife (read to find out where that fits in!), and what happens romantically between Col and Riff could have had a bit more punch to it as well. I felt like there was some good material here for a sequel, or it could stand on its own as an enjoyable tween read in the steam-punk genre.
Richard Harland is an Australian author - this book was published in Australia, and now will be in the U.S., and the U.K. I seem to enjoy Australian authors. See my post about Melina Marchetta's Jellicoe Road, one of my all-time favorites, here at my bookstore's blog. All these great Australian authors make me want to visit there one day even more.