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Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells
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Emilie and the Hollow World

by Martha Wells

Series: Emilie (1)

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Emilie and the Hollow World is reminiscent of 1800s stories such as Jules Vern’s but with a distinct Girl’s Own Adventure sort of feel. While running away from home, Emilie ends up stowing away on the wrong ship. She soon finds herself embroiled in a rescue expedition to the center of the world, where strange places and creatures lie in wait.

The society Emilie belongs to is reminiscent of Victorian England, giving the novel a steampunk vibe. There’s also magic and wizardry, and it is the currents of magic flowing through the world that propel our cast down to the hollow center and the world within the world. It is here that Martha Wells demonstrates her ample imagination, although the Hollow World does tend to remind me of her Raksura books (without any shapeshifters).

Emilie might have been my favorite thing about the novel. She’s got this intrepid spirit and really grows into her own over the course of the story. I also liked that even though the society she comes from is clearly sexist, she wasn’t the only female character among the main cast.

Emilie and the Hollow World felt clearly middle grade to me. I didn’t notice Emilie’s age ever being given, but she feels younger than a teenager. More like eleven or twelve. Somewhat perplexingly, I see other reviewers mentioning that her age is given as sixteen. Did I miss this somehow? Emilie really didn’t read as that old.

On the downside, it is a very light story. There’s not enough complexities to it to get me excited about it or emotionally invested. I’m not planning on reading the sequel. Still, it was enjoyable enough that I don’t regret reading it. Emilie and the Hollow World is certainly not Wells’s best, but if it’s her worse, it’s a testament to the general quality of her work rather than the failings of this novel.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Jul 19, 2016 |
I haven't read anything by Martha Wells before and you know that Strange Chemistry titles usually are hit or miss for me, and yet, Emilie and The Hollow World was just as delightful and refreshing as Pantomime.

This is pretty much a middle-grade book rather than YA, and Emilie is fifteen. There are also no controversial or sexual topics, there is no romance, so please do buy it for your child who loves fantasy and adventure without any sort of reservations.

Emilie is a wonderful character. She is a decisive young woman who takes her destiny in her own hands when her uncle and aunt refuse her to go and help her cousin with her school while constantly sneering and berating her for acting scandalous (they keep comparing her to her mother who was an actress or in their eyes - whore, despite her being married to Emilie's father).

Emilie doesn't act this way, she is bright, curious, dreams of adventure and wants to explore the world. She is not interested in boys or romantic relationship. So she ships her belongings secretly to her cousin and runs away planning to spend the rest of her money on buying a ticket on the ship to her cousin.

Unfortunately she ends up on Lord Engal's private ship which is under attack, and it escapes the battle by immersing itself in the sea and moving through aetheric currents to The Hollow World - a hidden second world in the core of Earth.

Martha Wells's description of this world is beautiful. I could easily imagine half-submerged into sea civilisations of vaguely humanoid species, different languages and strange creatures of the depth, - and through it all Emilie with her bravery manages to save her crew and her new friends a few times and help them win against their enemy so they can go back to her world.

Delightful, adventurous and quick summery read. Very much recommended for young girls and boys along with their parents. I'm definitely reading Martha Wells' other fantasy books soon. ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
This review and others can be found on my review blog.

This is a book I would be happy to give a teenager of any gender, with plenty of action and wonderful characters.

Review copy provided for free by Strange Chemistry through Netgalley

I liked this one a lot. It’s a pretty simple adventure story with a lot of action, but it really gets the high score for me from the characters. So often, YA has either very sarcastic, miserable main characters or main characters who are insipid and bland, but Emilie is neither of those things. She is a plucky young woman who opts to remove herself from a situation that is no longer tolerable for her (and she has fairly good reasons to leave, too, that are not completely over the top monstrousness) and who acts with bravery and loyalty throughout an adventure not of her own choosing. However, she isn’t unrealistically hard, she has moments of doubt and fear and grief, but she gets on and does the right thing regardless. I like her a lot.

The writing is pretty simple, but that’s fine. It tells the story well with no confusion, which is the minimum I require from prose. Yet again, this is a book where I’d have liked a little more flair in the writing, but I have no real complaints.

Something I did really enjoy were some little moments of subtle gender equality messages. Most of the stuff isn’t that subtle (Emilie constantly has to prove herself against those who think of her a certain way because she’s female) but there were a few little details that were more subtle that I loved.

A fun book with a decent bit of depth. I hope there will be more in the series.

4 stars.

Emilie and The Hollow World will be published in April. ( )
  Violetthedwarf | Oct 23, 2014 |
This review and others can be found on my review blog.

This is a book I would be happy to give a teenager of any gender, with plenty of action and wonderful characters.

Review copy provided for free by Strange Chemistry through Netgalley

I liked this one a lot. It’s a pretty simple adventure story with a lot of action, but it really gets the high score for me from the characters. So often, YA has either very sarcastic, miserable main characters or main characters who are insipid and bland, but Emilie is neither of those things. She is a plucky young woman who opts to remove herself from a situation that is no longer tolerable for her (and she has fairly good reasons to leave, too, that are not completely over the top monstrousness) and who acts with bravery and loyalty throughout an adventure not of her own choosing. However, she isn’t unrealistically hard, she has moments of doubt and fear and grief, but she gets on and does the right thing regardless. I like her a lot.

The writing is pretty simple, but that’s fine. It tells the story well with no confusion, which is the minimum I require from prose. Yet again, this is a book where I’d have liked a little more flair in the writing, but I have no real complaints.

Something I did really enjoy were some little moments of subtle gender equality messages. Most of the stuff isn’t that subtle (Emilie constantly has to prove herself against those who think of her a certain way because she’s female) but there were a few little details that were more subtle that I loved.

A fun book with a decent bit of depth. I hope there will be more in the series.

4 stars.

Emilie and The Hollow World will be published in April. ( )
  Violetthedwarf | Oct 23, 2014 |
In the process of stowing away on a steamship to escape her dreadful relatives, sixteen-year-old Emilie unwittingly finds herself part of a dangerous expedition beneath the Earth's crust. The ship she ends up on is not the placid steamer Merry Bell, but the Sovereign, a vessel specially designed to travel aetheric currents beneath the ocean to the inside of the world. Of course, it's never actually made this dangerous journey before . . .

I liked a lot of things about this book: the concept, the fast-paced plot, the well-imagined world of the Earth's interior, and the interplay between the steampunk science and the magic necessary to push it a few steps further. I thought the characterization was not as strong as the plot -- the cast of characters was large, and some of the minor characters seemed to run together, but not enough to make this more than a small quibble. I also thought Emilie acted a little young for her age. In fact, until her age was stated, I was picturing her as about 12, and had to mentally re-adjust. But it could just be that I'm used to 16-year-olds (especially in fantasy, where they're likely to be ruling a country or saving the world) who are written as more mature than real-life teens. Again, though, that's a minor issue in comparison to how much I enjoyed this book. I'm looking forward to the sequels. I'd recommend this to fans of Gail Carriger's Finishing School series. ( )
  foggidawn | Oct 4, 2014 |
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To Jennifer Jackson: another one she never gave up on
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Creeping along the docks in the dark, looking for the steamship Merry Bell, Emilie was starting to wonder if it might be better to just walk to Silk Harbor.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.
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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. Suddenly she's 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 experimental engine to journey to the dark interior of the planet in search of her new guardian's missing father. Along the way, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if theyare ever to return to the surface world alive.… (more)

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Martha Wells is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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