It’s been a while since I’ve managed to get a book review posted and this one is embarrassingly overdue. As usual, though, I received this book in exchange for an honest review. On to the good part.
The Machine by E.C. Jarvis is a wild ride into a steampunk world where the slightly childish shop girl, Larissa, is thrown into adventure head first and learns to grow up some along the way. Airship battles, pirates, religious mystics of multiple persuasions, and a cat keep thing spiced up along the way. Now, make a note, this is not a book for younger readers. There are some graphic scenes and details along the way, tastefully done, but graphic none the less.
Jarvis did an excellent job with the pacing of this story. It keeps you guessing and rolls right along. In a few places, I got worried that the whole thing would come off the rails, but Jarvis kept it under control. I love how she kept me engaged in the story without it being too difficult to follow.
I also loved the characterization. Each character had his or her own distinct voice, role, and motivation throughout the story. Larissa evolves the most throughout the story, though Cid and The Professor also manage to grow some as well despite their best efforts. I never had a question in my mind or felt that the characters bled together in any way.
Finally, I think Jarvis wielded a deft hand at building her world. At every step of the adventure, scenes were set with enough detail to picture them while not being overwhelming. Little details like how Larissa’s clothing felt after a scene where she’s caught up in an explosion lent a level of realism to the story I appreciated. And the political machinations? I am left wanting to read the next story just to find out what happens.
I had only two issues with this novel. First, while the other characters were so well done, Holt seemed to stay a little flat to me. He did have some growth in terms of how he interacted with Larissa by the end of the book. However, he still seemed to be about the same character as he was at the start of the novel. A little more growth would have been nice there. Unless, that is, Jarvis saved that for the next book in the series. I’ll have to check that out.
The other issue I had is with Larissa. There were a couple occasions where she seemed to make choices that were a little at odds with who I understood her to be as a character. It felt like her development seemed a bit rough at times, such as how this naïve shop keeper’s assistant accepted her role as a captain so easily. No, I’m not going to give you more than that as I do not want to spoil it for you.
Overall I enjoyed this foray into the steampunk world. The pros of this book far outweighed the cons in my opinion. I give this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.