What it's about: In a war-ravaged world, a wonder of a circus that combines flesh and mechanical body parts travels across the countryside. But the miracle of these performers has caught the eye of leaders who want a miracle of their own.
Thoughts: If I were the sort of person whose love affair with books extends to the language used to write them, I think this would be my number one read of the year. The nonlinear timeline, the variety of viewpoints and even POV types (first person vs third) and just the prose itself combined to make one heck of a compelling read, and if you like the manipulation of language, the ebb and flow of words to their own rhythm, you really owe it to yourself to give this book at least a look. From what I can tell, it's just exceptionally well written in that regard.
Sadly though, I am a Neanderthal when it comes to prose. As long as the narrative flows smoothly, the actual language isn't that important to me. I'll take a compelling story with pedestrian writing over a beautiful work of art that doesn't really go much of anywhere every time. So I just didn't get as much out of this as I think a different sort of reader will.
That being said, I got plenty out of this book. In addition to being beautifully written, it has a cast of remarkable, flawed but fascinating characters, a world that's only built in spurts and spatters but which is nonetheless engaging and leaves me wanting more more more. The circus itself is a character, structured to protect those within, and I loved Boss more than I ever expected.
And one of the greatest things about getting a bunch of flawed people in close quarters and working together is that you get to see their flaws and their good aspects bounce off one another. Some people set each other off. Some people complete each other. Some people share bonds they wish they could sever.
Sometimes they do.
Plot-wise, I felt like the story broke down in the last little bit, which is what struck a star off the rating for me. But the story was never really about the story, if that makes sense. It's about the ways in which these people have made their own kind of living in a world which requires more and more oand more from those in it. And it was a fascinating read.