The day after Nina Swift’s 21st birthday, she sets out to retrace her famous mother’s final, fatal journey.
Within days she’s wanted for murder, arson, manslaughter, and piloting an unlicensed airship. Suddenly, everyone, including the psychopathic Lieutenant Borker, wants a slice of her. Literally.
Join the fabulous Nina Swift ducking and diving her way through a dystopian future via friendship, adventure, betrayal, and assassins. As Nina dives into the mystery of her mother’s past, she discovers the greatest secret of the age.
The author sent me a free copy of this book to review.
Nina Swift is young, ballsy and the brand-new owner of a decrepit airship. As captain of the airship, she, along with her young crew – Izzy, Scud, Fernando and Trent – attempt to retrace her mother’s ill-fated archaeological expedition to try to find out why she had never returned from it. There are people who are determined that they won’t succeed in their mission and the action comes thick and fast – with air chases, murders, fights, explosions, baddies and goodies (although Nina and the reader don’t always know which is which), fires and scary pursuits.
The story is written in first-person present, mainly from the point of view of Nina, but occasionally from the point of view of Jack, the policeman in charge of capturing and arresting Nina for piloting an unlicensed airship and, later, for murder. But it is not only the police that are chasing the friends. There are also Reavers – a pirate-like group of people; the Microtough protectorate, defending the Engineers’ Guild; and the Daughters of Gaia. (Named, I assume, after Gaia, the mother of Earth, in Greek mythology.)
I am not sure of the age group at which this book is aimed, but I think mainly it will appeal to older teenagers upwards. The story is exciting and fast-paced, but there is a lot to take in, so I think it would not suitable for younger age groups. The world that Nick Travers has devised to support humans after they have poisoned Earth beyond sustainability is interesting, but I couldn’t quite grasp how it functioned, and I would have liked to have been given a bit more guidance in that. The characters were quite easy to picture and like (or dislike, as appropriate). Nina is a strong character (but maybe not as strong as we at first think?), although we question whether she is entirely reliable as a narrator. I like Scud best – he is apparently autistic (although not given that label), a numbers wizard lacking social skills and fiercely loyal to Nina.
Nick Travers is British, but the spelling and punctuation are in US style; there are both British and US terms. There are some plot inconsistencies and some glaring plot holes. The occasional changes of point of view jolted my reading flow as there is no warning of the change. The text has numerous spelling mistakes, inconsistencies and bad punctuation. I liked the story but it was marred by these errors.
I do recommend the novel if you already like steampunk. I will read the second in the series, but I would be much happier doing so knowing it has been edited and proofread.
The story is appealing, but it reads much more like a draft than a polished, final product.
It would make a great film.
Editorial Input & Design
Seemingly zero input and the book definitely suffers as a result. A developmental editor would sort out the plot holes and inconsistencies. A copy-editor would tidy up the many errors in spelling and punctuation, maintain consistency in capitalisation, and sort out the homophones and comma splices. A proofreader is an absolute necessity (spellcheck does not pick up correctly spelled words used in the wrong context, and there are a lot of correctly (and incorrectly) spelled words in the wrong context in this book). I think one of the characters had a name change between drafts, but there are a couple of instances the search and replace missed, which is very confusing (especially as the original name appears to be a normal word, not a traditional name). Hyphens are regularly (and very, very irritatingly) set as en-dashes, which really slows up reading. Some hyphens are missing altogether. “I” is used instead of “me”. Word spaces are missing, as are a few bits of punctuation.
I would suggest putting the narrator’s name at the top of chapters that start a section with a new narrator.
I would also suggest that extracts from the journal (a key part of the story) be put at the beginning of relevant chapters to explain why the characters are following the course of action that they seem to be on without reason. This would also provide a bit of backstory.
Cover: I like the cover. It shows a sassy, attractive young woman and it is easy to picture Nina looking like her.
Internal design: The paragraphs are indented with a space above. I would remove that line space. The first paragraph of each chapter is indented in its entirety. There is no reason for this – for the plot or the design – and it is confusing for the reader.
The change of narrator is usually made at the beginning of a chapter. In chapter 13 there is a change of narrator part way though. This is very confusing, and I suspect there is a big chunk of text missing – the end of one narrator’s chapter and the start of the next narrator’s chapter (although the following chapter is numbered in sequence [maybe because of automatic numbering]). I think this is where one of the plot holes (to do with the journal) would have been explained. A proofreader would have picked up on this omission. I had trouble with the mobi file for reading on a Kindle, but it was fine on the Kindle app on my laptop.
Book Clubs & Reviews
Not a particularly good book club choice, I think. There is a lot going on, but I’m not really sure where the discussion would take you. Maybe a book club that specialised in steampunk would find it interesting.
What others are saying: Amazon UK readers give it 3.5 stars (2 reviewers); Amazon US readers give it 5 stars (1 reviewer); Goodreads readers give it 4 stars (1 rating). Smashwords readers give it 4 stars (2 reviews). The reviews across sites have some duplications. It has only just been published (25 April), so there hasn’t been time for many reviews.