Release Date: April 22, 2014
The American Revolutionary War was a failure. British justice was swift and merciless. Sixteen-year-old Charlotte is the daughter of resistance fighters, hiding out with other children in a network of caves, safe until they are old enough to join the fight. When a new exile with no memory escapes from the floating city of New York, he brings with him a lot of questions and plenty of danger.
This alternative history steampunk novel had some really great world building. Boston is a penal colony where the infamous hanging tree is welcomed in the end. New York is a series of floating platforms. The British made pacts with Spain and France and the colonies were split up and the writers of the Declaration of Independence were hung as traitors. There are the obligatory steampunk mechanoids and flying ships. Cremer did try to blend the Greek gods into the story, which was largely unsuccessful until magic was introduced and then it was just completely illogical. I get that steampunk is a form of fantasy, but the magic bit just felt completely out of sync with this mechanical world she created.
There were some good characters, from the overly cautious Ash, to the secretive Jack, to green-haired Pip. Charlotte herself was a strong heroine who speaks her mind, knows how to handle a gun, and often sticks her nose places where it doesn't belong. Which is why it was so sad that such a great character in such a great setting was completely wasted on an illogical romance with a plot that couldn't decide which bunny trail to follow. Charlotte spends a good deal of the book mooning after two boys. Although she has proved herself in battle, she is never let in on any secrets, rarely knows what is going on, and spends most of her time in New York complaining about the role she has to play and judging every single person that she meets. While her brother and his allies are off at secret meetings, Charlotte sits in her newest silk gown trying to sort out her feelings between Jack and Coe. In truth, both her suitors were completely bad matches for her. Not only were there far too many secrets kept from her, but both acted childish and irresponsible. God, I loathe love triangles. The worst character by far though was her brother Ash, whose need to protect his sister actually creates more danger for her and allows others to easily manipulate her. He leaves her out of the loop so much that they are all lucky Charlotte manages to survive to the end.
There was so much promise to this stories' premise, but with a meandering plot and a main protagonist who never knows what is going on, it just turned into another trope love triangle romance book in a semi-interesting setting.
The Advance Reader Copy for this book was provided to me by Penguin Young Readers Group and NetGalley.