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The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson

The Explosionist

by Jenny Davidson

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1832164,645 (3.39)7
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    A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (faither)
    faither: The main characters are similar in these novels, but the subject matter is slightly different.

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On the Tiptree Honor List for 2008.
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
The Explosionist was not quite what I expected when I checked it out of my library. However, I was rewarded with a different and, most certainly, interesting story.

The description for the book definitely caught my attention, but for some reason, I was expecting something totally different. For one thing, the book is littered with psychics and seances and etc. I'm not a fan of seances and psychics are neutral ground for me - I have no opinion on them. The story also failed to set a time period. I obviously could tell it wasn't modern, so I was thinking 1800s, but then they referred to commodities and inventions that didn't coincide with the time period. It took quite awhile until they mentioned someone's birth year and age when I was then able to calculate the year being 1936. That was a little careless.

Second, the story is full of European and Hanseatic history. Super in depth history. It was a little too much for a novel like this, and I even had to read the author's biography to see if it was a YA book. (Turns out, she normally writes non-fiction and such. This is the first YA book she's written, and it shows.) It made the story very dry and un-enjoyable, because if you don't pay attention to the history and politics, then you won't understand what's happening.

However, I did like Sophie (the main character) and Mikael (her best friend) very much. They were both interesting and diverse, but not completely formed. I would have liked more flesh to Mikael's character since he so special to Sophie.

The plot, underneath the crazy history and politics, was pretty good. I loved the whole deal with IRYLNS (pronounced 'irons'). It gave the story a very Sci-Fi feel to it. I think that a lot of readers will be fascinated with IRYLNS and I believe it was one of the more interesting aspects of the storing.

All in all, I enjoyed the book but its not a favourite. I would only suggest this to those who want a read a story that's a bit off the beaten path. I may pick up the second book..who knows? ( )
  SpazzyDragon13 | Jul 7, 2015 |
2.5 stars. Had a hard time adjusting to the alternate history thing. ( )
  Mirandalg14 | Aug 18, 2014 |
Need to finish got to 284 but had to return
  nicdar111 | Jun 19, 2013 |
Yay, historical fiction! Were you paying attention in World History class? Because if you weren’t, you might actually find yourself believing Jenny Davidson’s alternate history—it’s that well-written.

I think the best part of The Explosionist is the world it’s set in. The government is completely out of control, spirituality is more of an accepted science, and bombs go off almost every other minute.

To go along with that world (and out-of-control government), Jenny Davidson crafted some really creative technology—suicide machines located conveniently in your local library, preservative technology for one’s brain to continue on after death, and some strangely emotionless girls who work for the government. I really enjoyed making sense out of every new invention.

Though I LOVED the setting and creative technology in The Explosionist, I found its pacing to be a tad slow. Getting through the first half of the book was almost excruciating. Sophie wasn’t a very interesting character at first; she struck me as a bit too naïve, considering she was in love with her teacher (student-teacher love always makes me put my head in my hands). But as the book went on, I grew to like Sophie—she developed more confidence, curiosity, and an ability that made me do a double-take.

I would recommend The Explosionist to fans of alternate histories—it’s very, very creative in that aspect. Though it’s a bit of a slow read, it does turn out to be enjoyable in the end. (And there’s a cliffhanger!)
(On a side note, I’d like to complain about the cover—it pictures a girl who is supposed t o be Sophie, but looks nothing like her! The book describes Sophie as having gray eyes, pale skin and short black hair. I wish the publishers had chosen a more appropriate model!)
(Originally posted to 365 Days of Reading) ( )
  renkellym | Nov 30, 2010 |
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As a small child, Sophie used to tell herself the story of her own life, pictures and captions running inside her head just like a real book.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Copied from the back of the ARC edition:

THE EXPLOSIONIST: Someone sets off a bomb outside fifteen-year-old Sophie's boarding school, but no one can figure out who.

THE MEDIUM: At a seance at her home in Scotland, a spiritualist medium delivers a terrifying prophecy, directed at Sophie herself.

THE MURDER: When the medium is found dead, Sophie and her friend Mikael know they must get to the bottom of all three of these mysteries in order to save themselves -- even as all Europe's fate hangs in the balance. Set in a time of subversive politics, homegrown terrorism, and a rapidly changing alliances, THE EXPLOSIONIST is an extradinarily accomplished novel that delivers a glimpse of the world as it might have been -- had one moment in history had been altered.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061239755, Hardcover)

A series of mysteries.

An explosion of truths.

The Explosionist: Someone sets off a bomb outside fifteen-year-old Sophie's boarding school, but no one can figure out who.

The Medium: Soothsayers and séance leaders are regular guests at her great-aunt's house in Scotland, but only one delivers a terrifying prophecy, directed at Sophie herself.

The Murder: When the medium is found dead, Sophie and her friend Mikael know they must get to the bottom of these three mysteries in order to save themselves—even as the fate of all Europe hangs in the balance.

Set in a time of subversive politics, homegrown terrorism, and rapidly changing alliances, The Explosionist is an extraordinarily accomplished debut novel for teens that delivers a glimpse of the world as it might have been—had one moment in history been altered.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:53 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In Scotland in the 1930s, fifteen-year-old Sophie, her friend Mikael, and her great-aunt Tabitha are caught up in a murder mystery involving terrorists and suicide-bombers whose plans have world-shaping consequences.

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