Title: Emilie and the Hollow World
Author: Martha Wells
Series: Emilie #1
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication date: Apr 2 2013
Format: ebook | Netgalley
Genre: YA | Fantasy | Steampunk
While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure.
Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father.
With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.
This is going to be one of those reviews that is difficult for me to write and is probably difficult to read. It always happens with the kind of book that I basically have no strong feelings about - while I was reading this, at times, I felt like I was reading it for the sake of reading. There didn't seem to be anything to get me excited or worried about characters.
The biggest problem I had was how the book started. Sometimes I love being thrown into the deep end of a story to be left to figure out what happened as the book goes on. There are always clues or little flashbacks to the protagonists past so that I'm given enough backstory to be able to get to know the main character better. That way I form an attachment of some sort - if that character goes through some sort of painful experience then I feel for them, in the same way that I enjoy reading about the character experiencing something pleasant. I didn't get that with Emilie. I didn't feel there was enough of a backstory revealed in order to satisfy me - I didn't really end up caring about what happened to her either way and I hated that.
I think that initial problem is what put me off the rest of the book. I ended up having the same problem with the rest of the characters, even though there wasn't any problem with them that I can put my finger on.
One thing I did notice though, was that I loved the descriptive writing. The 'Hollow World' is a world set in the depths of the Earth, it gave the author a chance to use her imagination and I loved how that came across. There were times where I could picture everything described clearly in my mind just because the writing was so easy for me to take in and imagine myself.
Overall this was a 'meh' kind of read for me. It had its moments but for me, if I don't really like the characters, I can't get into the book at all. However, as I always mention, give it a go if it seems like the kind of book you would go for…it's just my opinion.
My rating: 5/10