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Review: The Waking Engine by David Edison

By / May 2, 2014 / no comments

In The Waking Engine, when you die, you wake up on another world, in your body and clothes, perhaps a few years younger or older. After many lives, people arrive in the City Unspoken, where they will Die (no more waking in other worlds). People remember the details of all their past “lives.”

Further, true Death has not been coming lately; the City Unspoken’s population has swelled with people who cannot Die. And most of the nobles have been sealed up in a great dome (with no communication from the outside). Also, the ruler of the city has been missing for some time.

I thought David Edison’s writing style was a lot of fun, and it was that, more than anything else, that had me hooked early on. Language helped to define certain characters. Contemporary slang didn’t break immersion because Cooper (one of the POV characters) was from a society where this language was used. Additionally, I felt that the words of the noble girls trapped in the Dome worked well to define them.

There is also some unusual use of language in scenes involving the Cicatrix (a character who is part biological and part machine). I felt this did a good job at conveying what communication might be like among electrical components and various beings from different species/worlds/etc. It’s hard to describe, but it’s part computer code, part emotion.

The setting is richly-imagined. Different worlds that supplied people to the City Unspoken had different types and levels of technology and magic. These things often didn’t work well together; getting anything mechanical/computerized/etc. to function was difficult. Thus, the overall technological state of the world was, with a few exceptions, not very advanced.

This book is divisible into a couple of parts. In the first section, Cooper wakes up in the City Unspoken. (He had previously been living in New York.) He meets a few characters who will be major players in the book and he learns of life in the city. It was in this first part that the language hooked me.

In the second part, Cooper gets separated from his acquaintances and meets some unsavory individuals. This part dragged for me; it was where Cooper learned he had shamanic abilities. This part also contained some descriptions of sex (M/M, but not too much detail) and some violence/torture. It was not so fun to read Cooper’s scenes here. There’s also a side plot focusing on some of the nobles in the Dome. Someone has acquired a weapon that can Kill (i.e., you don’t come back from this permanent death) and is using it on others.

While I was a little unsure about this book after reading the second part, the third part redeemed it for me. When the Killer is revealed and I thought back about all the previous scenes in the Dome, I realized how cleverly the clues were placed. I thought the other part of the story, involving Cooper, was not quite as strong, but there were revelations about a couple of his companions that I found to be quite interesting.

There are other characters but I think this book is more about the City Unspoken and the idea that death is not final, and on that level, it works. I found The Waking Engine to be an enjoyable read, for the most part, and definitely plan to pick up Edison’s next book, as well.


Review written by Sneaky Burrito for BestFantasyBooks.com

About the author


Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!


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