Author: Phoebe Darqueling
Genre: Steampunk, Sci-Fi
Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
Riftmaker is a steampunk adventure about Buddy, a dog who has been transformed into a human being after going through a rift between our world and an alternate reality. On the other side, he is in search of his boy, Ethan, who was turned into a dog by the rift as well. In the steampunk world they are considered Travelers. Ethan is kidnapped by other Travelers and Buddy has to learn what it means to be human as he works with Jeremy, Lucy, Grace, Olivia, and Adelaide—all residents of the steampunk world—to get Ethan back and return to our world.
Perhaps one of my most favorite things about this book is that it works on several levels. While the book is a steampunk sci-fi novel, it really works on the young adult level as well. Apart from a couple instances of swearing at the very end, the style and language work for a middle to high school level. Yet, at the same time, I felt the story engaging enough to work on an adult level as well.
Another thing I appreciated about this book was the character development. There is quite a bit of character growth from the start to the end. Buddy learns a lot about being a human, Jeremy is forced to learn tolerance, Ethan just plain grows up some despite still being 11 years old throughout the story. Even one of the bad guys turns out to be not quite so bad, though I’m not going to tell you who and spoil some of the story.
One final thing, among others, that I liked about this book is the world-building. The rifts were well thought out and worked to propel the story forward. The way the society in the steampunk world was structured both mirrored periods of time in our own history and had enough detail to be real enough to feel like it really could exist. Even the chimeras and the djinn were a nice twist on what we usually see with them but felt natural to this world.
Except for the one bad guy growing as a character, I didn’t feel like the bad guys were as well developed. Don’t get me wrong, they were excellent bad guys. It’s just they felt a little flat to me. They had well developed motives for doing what they were doing. I did appreciate the fact they could be seen as heroes from their point of view. However, the growth and change weren’t there as much as it was for the protagonists.
The other thing that caught my attention was that there were a few editing issues. Now, please keep in mind I had an ARC copy, so I would guess at least some of it was fixed by the time this book was released. And, the issues were not glaring enough to make me want to put the book down. All of the issues were minor typo things like a missing word or misspelled word. I know I get a little sensitive about things like this, so I would guess many people may not even realize some of these things were issues. Overall, this was a minor problem in a fun steampunk adventure.
Overall, this is a wonderful addition to steampunk literature. The world is wonderful, most of the characters are dynamic, and the writing works on multiple levels. I would give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.