Bleh with Barry

Random with a cynical twist of lime.

Review of Nimbus: A Steampunk Novel (Part One)

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I recently had a Twitter conversation with author B. J. Keeton (@professorbeej on twitter. . .you should follow him if you don’t) and expressed how hard it is for me to write a review of anything because I feel like I can be a little too critical at times. I also told him that this is the reason why I hadn’t already written a review of his and Austin King’s Nimbus: A Steampunk Novel (Part One), and honestly, this is true. I have started and stopped writing my review several times, and each time, I have thought that I might be being a bit too hypercritical. However, as I have let the thoughts sit, I know that I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading it, and although the first part isn’t perfect, I really enjoyed it. Now, I’m going to tell you why as briefly, succinctly, and honestly as possible.

First the novel’s blurb:

NIMBUS: A STEAMPUNK NOVEL (PART ONE) is the first volume of a serialized steampunk fantasy novel that started as an experiment and came out of the authors’ desire to do something new and interesting with ebook technology, while also dealing with a wide variety of narrative goodies–from airships to demon possession.

The story of NIMBUS: A STEAMPUNK NOVEL follows Jude Finley, a new recruit aboard the Gangly Dirigible, an airship that extracts water from rainclouds. Having only lived above the Skyline for a year, Jude is still getting used to the way things work in the world above the clouds. While working aboard the airship, Jude and his friends uncover a secret which may or may not help them against a growing uprising that could spell doom for everyone on the planet.

Meanwhile, Demetrius Rucca, wheelchair-bound son of a prominent religious leader, begins recruiting followers for his own subversive cause. As allegiances are sworn to him and his followers grow, he begins to discover the new powers that lie within him. This power could be the salvation Demetrius is looking for–or it could be the destruction of the known world. (From Amazon)

About the Authors:

AUSTIN KING has written plays, poems, novels, and short fiction, but he spends most of his time making sure his credentials sound more impressive than they really are.

B.J. KEETON is a writer, blogger, and teacher. When he isn’t trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he writes science fiction, watches an obscene amount of genre television, and is always on the lookout for new ways to integrate pop culture into the classroom. He lives in a small town in Tennessee with his wife and a neighborhood of stray cats. You can find more free fiction by B.J. Keeton at http://www.professorbeej.com. (Amazon as well)

Both of these guys are awesome as well!

The Good

The characters– Both Jude Finley and Demetrius Rucca are fully fleshed out characters that I find to be completely believable. While both characters are interesting in their own right, Jude takes up the mantle of our main hero as he manages his life aboard the Gangly Dirigible and is confronted by increasingly difficult situations up until his cliffhanger. Rucca (as he is referred to throughout the novel) lives the life of a highborn crippled man, and it becomes obvious quickly that this has affected him as he literally takes to the skies to rid himself of his existence. Moreover, each has another hidden layer that surfaces as the story continues. . .

The story– It’s original and unlike anything I’ve ever read before, but moreover, it puts a new spin on the steampunk genre, which can be dry for me at times. From the beginning, the readers are shown the importance of water and how difficult it is to gather in turn through Jude’s story. With Rucca, we are brought into the problems of someone stuck in his own skin, feeling the limitations and hoping to be able to bypass them somehow. And. . .AND it has demon possession which will serve as a huge plot device within the remaining parts. . .I find this to be really awesome.

The Concept of Serialization–They’re releasing the novel in four parts on Amazon, but they’re also releasing it chapter by chapter on Keeton’s blog professorbeej.com. I’ve oftentimes thought of how interesting it would be to read something serially, like the Victorians once did (and others… I know that too). This indulges my fancy and allows me to see how it would function. Also, I think that this is a brilliant way to build suspense, especially with the overall strength of the writing. It makes the overall premise great.

The Not So Good

Imbalance with alternating plots early on– While the writing and the story were really, really strong overall, I found myself at times feeling like the alternating chapters between Jude and Rucca’s points of view were a bit uneven in terms of their overall pacing and interest level. This occurs mainly toward the beginning and slowly begins to work itself out as both plot lines amp up in terms of action. Give it the first few chapters, and I assure you that you will be drawn in (that’s why I make this point).

Awkward phrasing at points– Although this doesn’t happen that often, there were a few times in this section of the novel that I was left scratching my head at the connection of ideas in a sentence or at just the structure of a sentence. For example, at one point there is discussion about a character that has been damaged by the fog: “His fingers, hands, and arms were also damaged. Muscle tissue and, like the spot on his right hand, even bone showed through.” I understand what was meant to be said here within the context of the larger scene; however, it took me reading this passage a few times to get the exact meaning. These types of issues occurred very infrequently, which shows you that the copy editing / proofreading was done with great care and attention to detail.

Overall— 4 of 5 Stars

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars because it is provocative, the concept is interesting, and the characters, especially the main ones, are well written. I enjoyed it thoroughly and anxiously await the second part to know what happened to both our hero and the budding villain. Honestly, it is pretty fantastic for only 2.99 at the Amazon Kindle Store. Go out and get it today!

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