Saturday, February 25, 2017

Steamy Saturday: Phoenix Rising Review

Welcome to Unabridged Andra's Steamy Saturday!
This is a weekly feature designed to explore the amazing world of Steampunk! If you don't know what that is, strap on your goggles boys and girls because we're about to take a Sci-Fi ride unlike any other. Typically set during the Victorian era of England or the Old West period of America, Steampunk is a side branch of Science Fiction that wonders...What if electricity never took off and the world remained powered by steam? The spirit of adventure, invention, and exploration that pervaded these time periods are often major themes in Steampunk stories, making this genre one of the most exciting and inventive out there! Each week here on Unabridged Andra's, we will be hosting a review, guest post, giveaway, or cosplay discussion revolving around the world of Steampunk! Remember to link up reviews, posts, and inventions that you've found so that everyone can explore and go visit other blogs full of Steamy Goodness! Feel free to check out A History of Steampunk and the A-Z of Steampunk to get a more in-depth approach, otherwise Full Steam Ahead!   
Title: Phoenix Rising
Author: Bryony Pearce
Series: Phoenix #1
Pages: 368
Date Published: 2015
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Format: Kindle
Genre: YA Steampunk/Distopia
Source: Sky Pony Press


Sail. Salvage. Repeat.
For as long as Toby can remember, he and his father have sailed on the Phoenix, salvaging from the junk-filled seas to stay afloat, while keeping under the radar of the authorities. His father is, after all, a wanted man. And now the Phoenix is on the trail of the ultimate prize, a salvage of solar panels that could mean they’ll never need to hunt for fuel again.

Ayla is second-in-command on the rival Banshee, where she’s trained her whole life to fight—just as her mother, Captain Nell, demands. Since childhood, Ayla’s been taught the Phoenix must be destroyed. And now they have the ship in their sights. And they’re desperate to have their precious intel, too.

Toby’s sick of a life at sea, and Ayla may be his only hope. Can he turn an old feud into a new alliance that will save both their skins?
~My Thoughts~
As an avid reader, I have the opportunity of reading many, many books. This is a great problem to have; I don't deny that. However, when you're reading anywhere from 2-5 books a week for fun, plus 1-2 per week for work, it takes a really strong showing for a book to really stand out and keep your attention. Phoenix Rising was that book for me.

Bryony Pierce doesn't waste time in setting the scene, as we start out with a spotlight on our MC Toby in the place he feels most at home; the boiler room on the salvage ship the Phoenix. As he struggles to fix a steam leak we're given a lot of recap and character history, all mixed together with a lot of complicated steam-related science. Add in an exciting salvage project and the potential for enemy pirates stealing their prize, you get a TON of action in the first half of the book. 

For a short while, I felt lost against the plot. It seemed as though I alone didn't understand what was happening, as the book kept chugging along and almost didn't let me catch up. There were a ton of characters, and it's sort of a pro/con that everyone had a backstory and life of their own. It made it hard to suss out the primary characters from the secondary, but I suppose that's a good thing. It means that even if they were C-list characters you got to know them by name and started to care for them (or hate them) just a little bit. I admit that I was overwhelmed; however, if you stick with it and keep going, your brain patches together a whose-who of the motley salvage crew and you really start enjoying them as the family they are.  

As this is a Young Adult book, you can bet your clockwork a** that there's going to be a star-crossed love interest! Enter Ayla, the second-in-command of the Banshee, whose captain will stop at nothing to seek revenge upon the captain of the Phoenix. As opposed to Romeo/Juliet stories as I pretend to be am, Ayla was a very powerful character. She's larger-than-life, kicks butt better than the boys, and is positively lethal with a knife. No wonder Toby falls for her, especially as she's the first girl his age he's ever met. Without giving you too many details, their story gets predictably sappy and full of teenaged angst at the end of the book after a particularly gut-wrenching twist, but in spite of the melodrama, I enjoyed seeing their relationship grow as the plot continued to charge forward around them.  

I took a look at some other reader's reviews for Phoenix Rising and found that the main complaint was about the technology being too technical and confusing. Well...those ladies must not have read much steampunk, because most of the technology, gears, steam-boilers, Artificial Intelligence, etc. is not uncommon in really any other steampunk book I've read. I felt that the pseudo-science that Pierce applied to her tech was very believable. I mean, we are looking at a futuristic wasteland. The combination of industrial technologies with solar and computer tech was interesting and fun,  and did a great job of setting the scene as this poisonous, trashy wasteland. 
I am giving Phoenix Rising a resounding 4.5 Keys! The world-building was astoundingly and realistically crafted to show a world that could very easily be ours one day. I docked a few points because near the end, the suspense between Toby and Ayla turned got too melodramatic for my tastes, as well as those few key details kept from me as a reader at the beginning of the book, but overall Phoenix Rising is a wonderful adventure. There's action, battle, a mystery, and a clear future for this story as a series. I for one cannot wait for book two to come out! 

Next week's Topic: REVIEW of Toru: Wayfarer Returns

Are you an author of a fantastic Steam-themed book? Are you a reader or follower who has read a groundbreaking Steampunk novel and wants me to read it too? Let me know!  Feel free to contact me at, because I am ALWAYS looking for new books to read! If you have written a book with Steampunk characters or themes, you can be featured on Steamy Saturday in an interview, giveaway or guest post. Just let me know what you would have time for, and we will get things rolling!

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