So, I’ve already written about Boneshaker (see the previous post) but in rereading it, I do not feel that I really says what I wanted. Actually, it says next to nothing. I guess I’m afraid I’ll give away a spoiler or something. So, here’s an additional go at it and if I give something away that you didn’t want…oh well.
Anyhow……I was really fond of this book. It might be because I waited a while to read it, thought that typically makes me less charmed by a book. I think that there were two parts to this. The first was that the protagonist, Briar Wilkes Blue, is a woman who is out to save her son. That’s intriguing to me. I’m sure that, although I do not have children, there’s some psychological architypical reason for my being drawn to that kind of heroine. It seems so infrequent, at least recently, that we see a heroine who is also vulnerable without being dependent. Not that we never do, of course, but we somehow end up with either a superwoman kind of character who goes far beyond what a normal person would be capable of (I’m think about the female lead in the movie Salt at the moment) nearly to the point of unbelievability and certainly to a point where I loose some dimensions of empathy. Briar is tough, both before her son, Zeke, decides to break into the poison filled walled city, and after. But she is not superhuman. She’s brave, but it is in the way that real mothers are brave. They feel the fear and do it anyway. We see her shake and worry. We see her shame and fear of her own identity, second guess the way she’s parented her son and force her way past doubt and real fear to do what she must.
The second thing is the interesting code of ethics that seems to have risen in response to an act of compassion or, as it seems to be called here “fairness”, on the part of Briar’s father. When Briar’s husband, Leviticus Blue, sets the Boneshaker in motion and tunnels underground, causing the collapse of the banks and vaults and destroying the structural integrity of most of the city of Seattle, he also causes a deadly gas to be released upon the population. The vile stuff wreaks havoc on the community, killing many and, those who live after being exposed, transform into “rotters” or, as most of us lovingly call them, zombies. In the midst of the chaos and loss of life, Briar’s father releases prisoners from the jail who would have surely died if he hadn’t intervened. The Wilkes name becomes a sort of code for fair and even treatment of others amongst the less savory members of society.
Briar is sandwiched somewhere between her father’s name and her husband’s name. Yes, a piece of this story is about Zeke’s journey to discover who his father was or was not, but the most significant and intriguing piece is this woman amongst men (father, husband, son) who has layered herself deeply in protective emotional armor. Zeke may be out to learn who he is, but I think Briar learns a good deal about who she is, too.