Author: Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk
Source: Thames & Hudson Australia. Thank you!
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 north, she meets Jimson Quiggley, a young librarian 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 soon boarded by a handsome young marshal, Thomas Saltre, who learns who Lena’s father is and convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, called Zephyr House. Eventually, though, Lena must venture into the wilds of Scree and confront her deepest fears.Review by Nara
The Peculiars was...dare I say it? A peculiar book. It's probably not the conventional YA book- with a quirky writing style and meandering pace- it's the type of book I'd recommend to people looking for a bit of a "different" book.
Personally, I didn't really like the romance in the book too much. There's a semi-love triangle in the book, between the two boys mentioned in the blurb- librarian/scientist Jimson Quiggley (god such a silly name) and marshal Thomas Saltre, and meh. I wasn't really feeling it. I suppose Jimson was quite an interesting character, with his open nature and quirks, but I more so liked him as an independent character rather than as a love interest for Lena.
To be honest, Lena was initially (and for most of the book) quite an annoying main character. Every time it mentioned that she was jealous of Jimson's fiance (oh yeah, Jimson has a fiance from an arranged marriage) my face was something like -_- . She also just made really poor decisions throughout the entire book, most of which I can't really mention here as they're spoilery, but suffice to say it- she was often quite unreasonable and impulsive. And easily manipulated. And somewhat inconsistent. Woo! She sounds great!
While the majority of the book is a bit slow, once Lena enters the Scree (which is actually surprisingly quite late in the book), the pace picks up, and we get a lot more interesting action. Lena gets much more bearable, the plot is more engaging and just in general, the book is more enjoyable. I feel like that section of the book saved it for me overall.
Well, as I said in my first paragraph, The Peculiars is a bit of an odd book. Definitely give it a go if you're looking for a bit of an unconventional read.
World Building: 3/5