Monday, June 4, 2012

I'm Peculiar, Are You Peculiar Too?

Published: May 1st, 2012
The Peculiars
By: Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Amulet Books (Imprint of ABRAMS)
ISBN-13:  9781419701788

This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance. On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears.


  Lena Mattacascar has always been different from everyone else in her town.  She has long hands and feet, each with an extra joint - her Nana and the family doctor call them signs of goblinism.  Lena is curious about her Father, who abandoned their family when she was child.  Will she grow up to be like him, lacking morals and obsessed with money and adventure?  On her eighteenth birthday, Lena receives a letter from her Mother, that her Saul (her Father) left for her.  It contains the deed to a mine in the Scree, a lawless and wild land full of peculiars.  Hoping to find her Father to get some answers about herself and why he left, Lena decides to travel to the Scree.  On the train she meets Jimson Quiggley, who is headed to a town on the border of the Scree to be a librarian to a rich eccentric, Mr. Beasley.  Lena also meets Thomas Saltre, a Marshal on the trail of Peculiars who have escaped from the Scree.  He plays on Lena's insecurities and her acute sense that it's wrong to be abnormal; he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley, while in exchange he'll guide her into the Scree.  But when it turns out that Lena has misconstrued things rather badly, the consequences could be dire for some innocent people that happen to be 'peculiar.'  Can she manage to fix her mistakes in time to save Mr. Beasley, Jimson and other peculiars from a horrible fate?  Or will Lena's selfish and shallow choices ruin them all?  This book is classified as steampunk and fantasy, which normally would cause me to steer clear of it.  I have never been a fan of steampunk.  But this book seems to focus more on the physical, genetic abnormalities of the Peculiars and the extreme societal repercussions.  Some are born with 'goblinism' like Lena, others have wings sprouting from their backs.  All of them are viewed as beasts by regular people, treated only with distrust and intolerance.  This book addresses some serious issues with this particular plot device.  Lena herself was an interesting character.  It pained me that she seemed to hate herself so much, she was willing to betray anyone peculiar because she had been lead to believe they were unnatural and needed to be separate from society.  Not until close to the end did she seem to grasp that they deserved the same rights and treatment as normal people.  Jimson was a wonderful character, funny with a big heart and a serious thirst for knowledge.  He was definitely my favorite character, other than the Scree cat Mrs. Mumbles who was made of AWESOMENESS.  An interesting book with some food for thought and a resolution that was okay, but kind of meh compared to the action of the rest of the story.  

VERDICT:  3.75/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published May 1st, 2012.*

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