Wow! The Electrical Menagerie was a fantastic book. Thank you, Caylene, for suggesting we read it for our Shadows Beneath the Book Club! When I started reading the book, my critical writer’s mind was active, but for the first time in a long time that voice faded into the background the more I read. So much so, that I don’t even remember when my brain switched to purely a reader enjoying a well-written book. Even though The Electrical Menagerie is satisfying and can stand on its own, it is by some miracle part of a series. I can’t wait to read the next book! Unfortunately, I have so many books on my TBR list, including our next book, for September, which happens to be 2 books again:
On Writing and Worldbuilding Vol. 1 by Timothy Hickson
Alternate/fiction book: The Caves of Steel (Robot #1) Isaac Asimov.
The good news is that I read The Electrical Menagerie to my family (the reason we didn’t finish till now) and that means our next family book will probably be the next book in the series. I certainly do think they’d be up for me reading On Writing and Worldbuilding Vol. 1 to them 😉
Shadows Beneath. . .
Now that you know how much I loved this book, let’s talk about how it could be better. To start, the perspective switches between two male characters: Carthage and Huxley. I love them both and can’t decide which character I like more, but the reason I bring this up is because in the beginning it was hard for me to know when we were in Carthage’s mind vs. Huxley’s. I do think this problem can be solved easily with some transition words. And like I said, this was only a problem at the beginning of the novel. In fact, I think if Huxley’s first scene was edited to make it clearer that we’re in his mind, everything else would be solved, because as a reader not knowing there’s going to be two perspectives to switch between, I needed more clues, especially when both characters are in the scene.
The second thing I would say is that there was one point in the book where I was bored and knew what was going to happen next. Can you guess where that was? But thankfully, just as I started to think about this, the story picked up and that critical voice vanished again. I love how Mollie made the tension come back. I feel like so many books today focus on the plot or outside influence of the world to create tension and while there is some of that she kept me reading by the character arc. I had expected there to be some disaster in the show but instead she went with something personal to the character and warmed the cockles of my heart.
The third and final thing I would say is that some of the worldbuilding could have been better explained earlier in the book. It wasn’t till the climax of the book that I realized the trains they’d been riding around this whole time traveled in the air! Knowing this sooner would have increased my wonder of the world and would have reduced the need for explanation in the middle of the most intense scene of the book.
It’s your turn. Did you like the book as much as I did? Was there anything you had trouble accepting as a reader? Who was your favorite character? (I think Dominic might have been mine). Let’s chat in the comments below! And don’t forget to start reading our next book. Pick one or both and I’ll talk about both of them in my next post.
This book was fantastic! How fun that you read it to your boys. 🙂 Every night before bed I would say, “I’ll just read a couple pages”, but I’d finish the chapter and inevitably start the next one. It was filled with such sparkle and magic and beautiful prose–I loved it! My favorite character is probably Sylvester, though Dominic was really sweet and loyal. 🙂 But I loved Sylvester and Huxley’s friendship! Also, one of my favorite scenes was when Sylvester and the Future Celestial Queen met and were able to form an instant connection based on similar life experiences. That was a very neat plot twist!
The world building was very cool; like you said, some of it could have been explained more fully near the beginning of the novel. But I can’t wait to read the next book in this series and learn even more about this world, especially the magic system!
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