Saturday, 5 December 2015

Review: Badlands by Seleste deLaney

2 stars

Seleste deLaney's Badlands is a Steampunk romance, set after an alternative American Civil War that saw the US divided up into the Union, the Confederates and the Badlands. The Badlands is a frontier, where the Union expel their criminals to be rounded up and imprisoned by the Amazonian women who live there. Ever is one of those women, a military commander for Queen Lavinia. When the queen is killed in a brutal attack, Ever escapes and embarks on a mission to bring home the new Queen from her university in the Union before there's a massive power vacuum and whatever mysterious enemy they're fighting manages to wipe the Badlands off the face of the earth. Spencer Pierce, captain of the airship that picks up Ever after she flees her people's settlement, reluctantly assists her in her mission, but he's got problems of his own. The attack on the Badlands has meant he was unable to complete the last cargo run of his indenture, leaving him under the thumb of a powerful Union Senator.

Badlands suffered from all-round poor characterisation. For a start, Ever was an insufferable and nonsensical heroine. There was a massive disparity between her rhetoric and her actions. She was intolerant and judgemental and stubborn beyond belief, and didn't seem to have the good sense God gave a flea. She's meant to be a warrior, but you'd never know it the way the the hero has to coddle her, even though Ever decided Spencer is weak and idiotic when they first meet. (Spoiler alert from here on in). Next time we turn around Ever's got a serious case of insta-love. Which, I'd just like to add, she tries to banish by sleeping with another crew member. Spencer's insta-lust was a bit more understandable, since Ever has some kind of aversion to clothing herself appropriately, but why he puts his crew in danger for her I'm not quite sure.

In fact, the motivations of all the characters were very patchy. The villain of the piece was inexplicably evil, and I can't help but think that there would have been much easier ways achieve his aims. The ship's doctor, Henrietta, wants to marry Spencer, although once again I'll be damned if I can work out why she's set her heart on that. I mean, the guy was the most unobjectionable bit of the whole book, but he doesn't exactly have a lot in the way of prospects and Henrietta didn't actually seem to be in love with him.

It's getting 2 stars, and that's mainly for world-building; I liked the broad strokes of the setting, even if I found some of the smaller details a little incongruous. 

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