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November 10, 2012

"The Peculiars" by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

[Clickey the cool cover for Goodreads!]

Title: The Peculiars
Author: Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Publication: 2012, Harry N. Abrams
Summary: This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance. 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.....read more

Review: Infused with Victorian era-style steampunk, "The Peculiars" blends paranormal elements with a developing industrial side. Somehow, nothing about this book struck me as memorable or outstanding as it felt like too much of it was fabricated from your typical YA read and unfortunately, there wasn't anything that truly shined through to reach me as a reader.

From the characters to the plot, "The Peculiars" seemed to only ever reach a level labeled "Adequate". The only element I appreciated and was satisfied with was the diction, particularly at the beginning. At the start, Ms. McQuerry's prose carried out detailed nuances effectively and I was temporarily impressed. The opening was a pretty promising one. However, an author's writing style is something that readers get used to over a number of pages, therefore it soon lost its intricate appeal, or perhaps it wasn't consistent because I stopped responding emotionally after a while.

Lena was a female protagonist who did not win me over at all. Her unique physical features and background story aside, there just was not enough to make me truly like her. I ended up following her 3rd-person POV without much empathy because there were certain details in her personality that high irritated me.

I rarely feel so indifferent about main characters since usually, there's always something to make you like them. Unfortunately, there are those limited, tiny details that irk me personally and Lena just hit one of them. I thought she was snobby and not exactly unkind, but definitely not a girl with the warmest heart either. Perhaps it was her "goblin blood", but it certainly did not help me warm up to her as a reader.

She has stated herself that she is middle class. Aside from benefiting from the decent education coming as a daughter of a librarian, there is nothing that indicates she is out of the ordinary, plain citizen. 

""What does he use it for?" the marshal asked around a sloppy mouthful of roll. 
Lena averted her eyes in distaste."

Yet at many times, she gives off the feeling of looking down at others. "Distaste" is a terrible word! I feel that it is so negative and strong in a cultural sense, to drop that word on someone or their actions. A truly kind person would not look down at others with the feeling of "distaste" just for a small action like how they eat. It's not like the marshal did not give up his seat for an elderly woman on the bus. That sort of small action tells a lot, but just because he was sloppy with his eating habits, Lena didn't have to put on such a snobby, superior act of feeling distaste.

The other characters were bland and felt a little less than two-dimensional as well. There wasn't much to truly connect or click with in any of the characters and I felt that I couldn't care less, especially about Lena. The overall plot and pacing didn't exactly drag, nor was it slow, but it didn't grasp me tightly either, coming up to mediocre standards. Romance was softly scattered on and although it added a bit more depth, it battled for attention and weighing of importance against the main goal of the plotline, whereas it could've complemented it instead.

The conclusion was just as half-cooked-feeling as the rest of the book and it left me feeling unsatisfied. Overall, "The Peculiars" only achieved around half of everything as it unfortunately just did not let any specific aspect of it to stand out from the ordinary read. This ended up as a disappointing read, especially since I wasn't able to relate to the main character at all.

Ratings: ✰✰ 2 Mediocre Hoots

Final Notes: It's definitely a personal pet-peeve, but I just cannot get over those moments of Lena's distaste! As a middle class young woman from her time period, it really isn't nice to judge like that as if she knows all about high-breeding and good up-bringing. "Disgust" would be a very strong word and I really do no wish to use it, but it'd be most fitting because I was "disgusted" as a reader with Lena's "distaste".

This book just was not memorable, unfortunately. The premise itself does have potential, but it's all sadly very forgettable. -feeling disappointed-


Thanks for reading!
Vivian 

P.S. Thanks so much to all you lovely bloggers who still drop by this little blog and find time to read and comment on my reviews! I know I take really long to return comments now and that I don't always get a chance to comment on all your posts, but I'd like to say that I really appreciate the support and that all your comments make my days so much brighter! Thank you!