The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent
Hardcover, 305 pages
Published: August 14th, 2012 by Simon & Schuster
In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.
Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.
As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.
I admit I had very high expectations for this book, it was one of my most anticipated books of the year. So it wouldn't take much to leave me feeling disappointed. Fortunately this book was everything I expected and more! First of all it's a mesh of all my favorite genres; steampunk, fantasy (and all the fantasy creatures I could ever dream of!), and historical. The historical bit isn't really historical, but you know, all the fun stuff like bustles and manners, etc. It's actually an alternate London that is basically faery land. But it's unlike any other book I've read that takes place in a faery land and so don't go picturing that just yet.
This book is told in alternate chapters by Vespa and Syrus. This worked well because they are such different people seeing things in a completely different way as well as from a different place. This allows us to see and learn much more of this crazy world that Tiffany Trent has created. My assumption was that Vespa and Syrus would have romantic interest in each other, but it's not quite as I expected and in a better way then I could have hoped. There's a different love interest actually and I liked it much better that way. There are plenty of twists and turns and unexpected things that get in the way so the romance that is here is on the back burner, but it is there. I'm hoping in the next book this will expand a bit.
I already touched a bit on the characters and I don't really know what else to add. I really liked all of them, the good ones and the bad (you know in the hateful way you must) and I think they played their roles incredibly well. The evil ones were perfectly evil and the good ones were amazingly brave and daring as they should be.
I think it was the incredible world that Tiffany Trent has created that completely won me over for this book. Because it was just that, incredible. She pretty much blew my mind with all the creative stuff she did. This book was completely different from anything else I've ever read. It had a stronger fantasy feeling to it then most steampunk since it's a fantasy world, except the New London which didn't feel like a London to me much at all. The creatures, the creeping waste that's taking over, the tinkers and their history... it was all so perfectly done and so easy for me to picture. Now because she has created such an incredible world don't be expecting constant action as there was a fair bit of world building to do. But I never felt bored or like there was an overabundance of description. Much of it we see as the characters do, as they discover horrific thing, or as they recall stories they have heard. So in this way we do get the 'show' rather then the 'tell' and it kept the plot moving forward and everything stayed plenty interesting. The last quarter of the book or so was simply impossible for me to put down. It was constant action and everything was unfolding before us, revealing things we never could have guessed on our own. And the ending was absolutely fantastic as we get the conclusion we need but still crave more of the beauty that is this book.
I most definitely, very highly recommend you pick this book up. I recommend this to fans of steampunk and fantasy alike as it's equal parts of both. It's a stunning book and I most eagerly await the next one nearly dying as I need it in my hands immediately.