Monday, August 12, 2013

ARC Review: Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish (Cuttlefish, 1) by Dave Freer, July 26, 2012. 299 pages. Published by PYR Books. Source: Publisher.
The smallest thing can change the path of history.

The year is 1976, and the British Empire still spans the globe. Coal drives the world, and the smog of it hangs thick over the canals of London.

Clara Calland is on the run. Hunted, along with her scientist mother, by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers, they flee Ireland for London. They must escape airships, treachery and capture. Under flooded London’s canals they join the rebels who live in the dank tunnels there.

Tim Barnabas is one of the underpeople, born to the secret town of drowned London, place of anti-imperialist republicans and Irish rebels, part of the Liberty - the people who would see a return to older values and free elections. Seeing no further than his next meal, Tim has hired on as a submariner on the Cuttlefish, a coal fired submarine that runs smuggled cargoes beneath the steamship patrols, to the fortress America and beyond.

When the Imperial soldiery comes ravening, Clara and her mother are forced to flee aboard the Cuttlefish. Hunted like beasts, the submarine and her crew must undertake a desperate voyage across the world, from the Faeroes to the Caribbean and finally across the Pacific to find safety. But only Clara and Tim Barnabas can steer them past treachery and disaster, to freedom in Westralia. Carried with them—a lost scientific secret that threatens the very heart of Imperial power. 
First Sentence:
It was after midnight, and London’s lights shimmered on the waters that had once been her streets.

Yep, it is that time again, time for another review from the post-move stack of things to catch up on. This week, I am featuring Dave Freer’s Cuttlefish which has been in storage for a few months.

Even though it took me fifty pages to get into the world and Dave Freer’s writing, Cuttlefish was definitely one of the most interesting sci-fi/fantasy books I’ve read. I enjoyed reading about the struggle of the underpeople-those born in a drowned London- and how they were always one-step away from being discovered. It definitely made for a thrilling read 

Y’all know that when it comes to characters I cannot stand ones that act entitled, so, you can guess that when Clara was first introduced that I was not keen on reading about her. While she irritated me to no end when she was first introduced, I ended up liking her because as things began to unravel for those helping her and her mother she began to show that she was made of sterner stuff.
      As for Tim, the other protagonist, I pretty much liked him from the get-go. While I find it hard to pin down why I liked him, I really enjoyed his voice and that he had a goal he was working towards. The steadiness of his character also made him interesting because you knew that he could be relied upon to do his duty.

While there were some things I didn’t like about Cuttlefish-read next section for explanation-the good more then out-weighed the bad in this one. So, while the start of Cuttlefish was a little rocky, I ended up really enjoying the writing of Dave Freer and the alternate-history book he created.  What really spoke to me with his writing was how he was able to create an alternate timeline that was both interesting and original. But what was really cool about the world would have to be the rebels and he crew of the Cuttlefish.

Cuttlefish ended up being quite the fascinating read, but I admit that I did not like the first 50 pages. The main reason I found myself not liking the first pages was that I was highly annoyed with Clara, one of two protagonists. What really bothered me about her would have to be that she came across as one of those over privileged, spoiled brats. So, how could one of the most annoying characters not ruin the book for me, well, the answer is that as the book progressed you got to see what she was really made of and because she just grew up.

Final Verdict: Cuttlefish- While a little slow on the takeoff, this is one alternate-history sci-fi read you do not want to miss.

Cuttlefish earns 4 out of 5 pineapples


  1. Sounds interesting! Would you say this is for middle grade readers? I'm not sure if it belongs in next Sunday's round-up....

    1. Hi Charlotte, While Cuttlefish is more of a YA book, I don't think there is anything in it that would be inappropriate for middle grade readers.

  2. Huh. This sounds like it could be interesting. And I like that there isn't anything that's inappropriate for middle grade readers! I struggle to find books that are appropriate for my 11 year old daughter who reads at nearly a college level. Thanks for sharing your review!

    Laureen @ Ms. Bibliophile.


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