Emilie and the Hollow World
by Martha Wells
Genre: Historical, Steampunk, Young Adult
Excerpt: No | Book Trailer: No
Reviewed by: Julia | Source: NetGalley
While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure.
Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father.
With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.
An adventure of the purest form, EMILIE AND THE HOLLOW WORLD has stowaways, mysterious lands, foreign strangers, saboteurs, and intrigue, all flavored with just the right amount of magical steampunk technology. Though the pacing was choppy in the first few chapters, alternating between action and large chunks of exposition, once Emilie finds her place on this crew of adventurers and scientists, the story takes off.
Reminiscent of GREAT EXPECTATIONS or TREASURE ISLAND, Emilie is an intrepid youngster making her own way through the world. Emilie, however, very quickly takes a central role in the action. Believably or not, this heroine solves mysteries, plans jail breaks, and keeps pace with the adventurous adults around her. As much as I enjoy adventure for it’s own sake, I need some romance or character growth to keep me anchored in a story. Though Emilie is brave and resourceful, she doesn’t change much from the adventurous girl who ran away from home at the book’s opening. And while Emilie is sixteen-years-old, this book reads more like juvenile fiction than YA.
Age and romance have little bearing on this story, focusing instead on the politics and personalities of the various crews that collide. This intermixing of competing adults was one of my favorite aspects of the story, if only because it lent some much needed credibility to the way Emilie integrates herself on the ship. Despite face paced adventure, the resolution of the action plot alone wasn’t enough to get me invested in these characters, and that lackluster connection ultimate brought my rating down to 3 bats. EMILIE AND THE HOLLOW WORLD is perfect for younger readers, however, and anyone who can appreciate a good adventure all on it’s own.
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