Title: The Impossible Cube
Author: Steven Harper
Series: Clockwork Empire (Book 2)
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Format: Paperback, 380 Pages
ISBN-10: 0451464508 (Penguin/Roc)
ISBN-13: 978-0451464507 (Penguin/Roc)
Reviewed by: Kristie
In an age where fantastic inventions of steam and brass have elevated Britain and China into mighty empires, Alice Michaels faces a future of technological terrors…
Once, Gavin Ennock sailed the skies on airships and enchanted listeners with his fiddle music. Now, the clockwork plague consumes his intellect, enabling him to conceive and construct scientific wonders—while driving him quite mad. Distressed by her beloved’s unfortunate condition, Alice Michaels sought a cure rumored to be inside the Doomsday Vault—and brought the wrath of the British Empire down on them.
Declared enemies of the Crown, Alice and Gavin have little choice but to flee to China in search of a cure. Accompanying them is Dr. Clef, a mad genius driven to find the greatest and most destructive force the world has ever seen: The Impossible Cube. If Dr. Clef gets his hands on it, the entire universe will face extinction.
And Gavin holds the key to its recreation…
Quick & Dirty: Adventurous steampunk following Gavin & Alice on the next step of their journey. Filled with cool gadgets and explosive toys, The Impossible Cube, is less of a love story and more about saving the world from the Clockwork Virus.
Opening Sentence: Gavin Ennock snapped awake.
The Impossible Cube follows Alice and Gavin on the next step of their journey to cure the Clockwork Virus, a virus that turns people into mindless zombies or extremely intelligent Clockworkers that create ingenious inventions that allow this steampunk world to flourish. Only weeks have passed since, Alice and Gavin destroyed the Third Ward and released a cure for those afflicted with the Clockwork Virus. They are now on the run to China to look for a cure for Clockworkers, the only people the cure will not affect, it works wonders for the mindless zombies. They are now being chased by their former boss and co-workers for their treasonous act.
Alice now has a strange spider-like contraption attached to her arm that allows her to cure people with her blood. She has been taking it upon herself to heal all those she comes across, even if she is too weak to help. She is also aided by fireflies that will slowly spread the cure but her touch works miracles. Gavin has learned he is a Clockworker and as such he keeps working on new devices and gadgets to aid in their travels. Unfortunately for Gavin, the Clockwork virus is decimating his brain at a fast pace, faster than other Clockworkers, it is looking like he may not make it to China in time for a cure.
Before they can make it to China, Gavin, Alice and the crew must hide in Europe and make some money. They need enough paraffin to make the journey to China. Their journey takes them to Kiev, Ukraine, a city that is overrun with Clockworkers. The Clockworkers have taken over the city and kidnap people from the streets for their experiments. It is also rumored that Kiev is the birthplace for the Clockwork Plague, so Alice believes that if she cures enough people there, it will spread so that less people will get the virus.
The Doomsday Vault felt more like a love story while The Impossible Cube is more an adventure story. Gavin and Alice love each other but it feels like there is a huge divide between them now. Gavin gets so lost in the madness of being a Clockworker that he is rude to Alice. Alice wants to cure everyone but cannot. They can’t get close because deep down Alice is still a prim and proper British woman, she wants to wait for marriage but since she carries a title she wants a legitimate marriage, unfortunately it doesn’t look like Gavin will last that long.
The Impossible Cube feels like a huge set up for The Dragon Men. For some stupid reason I felt like they would make it to China in this book but they don’t. The first half of this book had quite a bit of action but it just felt like it dragged on while I was completely engrossed in all the action when they made it to Kiev. There is also some hinting at time travel which I completely expected in this book but that never happens. I don’t know if it was to throw us off where the story did go or it is still to come. There is also a prophecy which doesn’t really come to fruition, it is alluded to in some events that happen later on but I think we will see more of that in the next book.
I am still fascinated with this steampunk world. The gadgets, dirigibles, and inventions are interesting and innovative. The zombies don’t really have much of an impact aside from Alice trying to cure everyone. The mindless zombies aren’t really that scary either. The Clockworkers are still crazy scary though.
Overall, the third person narrative of The Impossible Cube drives this story. I had no idea where this story was headed since my hunches didn’t pan out, but one thing is for sure, Gavin and Alice’s group undergo a lot of changes and tragedy, changes I didn’t really agree with. Another thing that is for sure, I want to know how this trilogy ends.
“Two of your ribs are cracked and it is possible a third is broken,” Berta said, and her mechanized voice managed to sound concerned. “You must come downstairs so I can wrap them.”
Adames waved her off. “Not yet.” His breath came in gasps. “Alice and Gavin have to know. I saw . . . I saw . . . the world coming to an end in flood and plague.” He panted with the effort of speaking. “Dear God, the pain.”
“Your ribs,” Berta began.
“Not my pain,” he gasped. “The world’s. So many people will die if you fail, Alice. Millions upon millions.”
Alice struggled to more alertness. “Me?”
“You must not fail,” Adames said. God has shown me. Oh, He has. I’m so sorry.”
Something in his tone made Gavin uneasy. “Sorry?”
“You’re trials aren’t over, my children.” He was leaning heavily on Berta now. “Flood and plague will destroy us if you don’t cure the world.”
“That’s my intent,” Alice said, holding up her gauntleted hand.
Adames shook his head. “Not you. Gavin.”
“Me?” Gavin started. “But Alice has the spider, and her aunt made the fireflies.”
“That’s not what God showed me,” Adames repeated stubbornly. “You will cure the world, and Alice . . . Alice must let go.”
“Let go?” Alice asked. “Let go of what?”
He shook his head. “I’m sorry. It’s not . . . it’s not like looking in a picture. It’s a dream that I know is real. Oh, Alice. Your love destroyed an empire. Now it will destroy the world as well.”
The Clockwork Empire Series:
FTC Advisory: Penguin/Roc provided me with a copy of The Impossible Cube. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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