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Book Review: Lifemaker by Dean Wilson

Book Review: Lifemaker by Dean Wilson

It's Bonus Book Review Saturday, and today we're going way off the beaten path with a steampunk novel. It's the Part 2 to Hopebreaker, a book I reviewed a few months ago.


The Regime is on the hunt, forcing the Resistance to take refuge aboard the Lifemaker, an advanced submarine that houses a special cargo: a handful of women who can still give birth to human children. lifemaker_cover To evade the Regime's own submersibles, all parties must work together, but tensions are high, and not everyone on board is looking out for the greater good. As they descend into the deeps, they quickly learn that not all monsters work for the Regime.

My Review: 4 Stars

I read Book 1 more out of duty than desire, but when I opened the pages of Lifemaker, I was pretty quickly hooked by the story. In Book 1, the main character, Jacob, is fairly unlikeable. It made the book a bit hard to read, and it felt like the author was trying to push readers away from bonding with the main character. But now, in Book 2, he still has the same brash, abrasive, combative personality, but he is much more likeable. Within a few chapters, I was actually rooting for him instead of praying that I would get the book over with. I love the concept of steampunk, and the way the author described the various vehicles and machines was beautifully simple. No fancy, in-depth explanations of complicated machines only an engineer would have a hope of understanding. Instead, the book focused more on the characters, and that's what made me like it so much. The intro is a bit clunky and awkward, and it takes a while to build up steam (pun intended), but once the book gets going, it's great. I had to give it a 4-star rating because the writing just felt "off" in a lot of places. I can't explain why, but there was something about the sentence construction, the wording of certain phrases, and some of the expressions used that just didn't sit right with me. Perhaps it's the fact that the author is writing in more UK English than my American English brain is accustomed to. Either way, VERY good Part 2, and definitely a book worth reading if you enjoy steampunk.

Here's a Taste:

Jacob immediately regretted volunteering as soon as he jammed himself inside one of the submersibles. It so was tiny it made his quarters look and feel like a palace. Within minutes his legs already felt a hint of a cramp, which was not reassuring, given how much he would come to rely on them to pedal that ball of metal and glass. Perhaps Taberah was also complaining in her submersible, but it did not seem like it. Jacob presumed she had used these contraptions before. “You know how to steer it?” Rommond asked Jacob. “It looks simple enough. Basically a bicycle in a ball.” “With a propeller,” Rommond added. “Many thousand leagues beneath the sea.” “Yeah, I forgot about the sea part.” “Don’t,” Rommond cautioned. “Don’t worry. Something tells me it’ll stick in my mind.” He was shown how to use the two mechanical arms on the front of the vessel, which were powered by levers on either side of those that steered the craft. It was such a tight fit that the levers were very close to one another, making it very easy to pull the wrong one. So much for the Resistance’s fabled engineering, he thought. He patted his legs. It’s all about muscle and stamina now. “Should this lamp be burning now?” Jacob asked. The oil-lamp had already been lit for several minutes, and it dangled above the dashboard, faintly illuminating the meagre controls. There was no room for a spare lamp, or spare fuel. There was barely enough space for the one, and for Jacob’s head, which banged against the lamp from time to time. Jacob could not help but think of the submersible as being like a coffin. He hoped it would not end up being true. “Don’t worry,” Rommond said. “You’ll run out of air before that light goes out.” With those final words, the door was closed and sealed air-tight. Though this was reassuring, to save Jacob being killed by the immense pressure, or by drowning, it also started the clock ticking away on the air supply, counting down to his untimely death. He glanced once at the chronometer on the ever so close dashboard, before feeling a sudden jerk as the submersible was pushed into a tube, which was then sealed off on the inside. Another door on the outside of the tube opened, flooding it with water, which buoyed the submersible and brought it into the black sea. Then Jacob began pedalling, and the propeller set in motion. The submersible glided out of the tube and into the great emptiness of the ocean, which was not empty at all, but filled with many bobbing bombs, which Jacob and Taberah pedalled towards, instead of away from. Jacob decided to pedal at an even pace, to save his strength, but part of him felt like giving it his all, knowing that his all might end in several minutes’ time. The gloom around him made him appreciate more the glimmer of his oil lamp. “Hell, this is dark,” he said. He liked the darkness, but this was oppressing. It almost flooded his being. He was afraid that even when he returned to the light—or if he returned to the light—he would still feel that darkness in his soul. He caught sight of Taberah’s submersible leaving another tube, illuminated by one of the Lifemaker’s blinding lights. “The Lightmaker,” Jacob quipped. He was not sure who he was talking to. Taberah led the way to the mines in front of the submarine. They were further away than Jacob thought, and the Lifemaker’s immense size was better appreciated when he had to pedal half its length to get to the front of it. He was already panting. It was a frightening feeling, because not only was he tired, but he thought the pants might be consuming more of that precious, and dwindling, supply of oxygen. They reached the mines, which were slightly larger than the submersibles were, yet they looked monstrously large compared to how they looked from the Lifemaker. Taberah was already using the mechanical arms to stretch forth and gentle nudge one of the mines to the side. Jacob glanced at the chronometer. Almost six minutes had passed, and only one of the mines was out of the way. To the Resistance, Jacob was a newfound ally; Time was not. He fiddled with the levers that controlled the mechanical arms of his craft. They sprang into action, and their sudden, jerky movements made Jacob afraid that they might suddenly clatter off a mine, and so be the end of them, and him. He heard the metal fingers scratching off the metal of the mine. Each scrape almost sounded like the countdown of a bomb. Five. The mine was not budging. Four. He had to pedal a little more, to push it forward. Three. He had to be careful he did not pedal too much. Two. He had to let it drift away a little of its own accord. One. He had to hope it did not collide with another mine behind it. Zero. There was no explosion. He was still alive. But a different counter was ticking away. Only eight minutes of oxygen remained. Taberah had already cleared two of the mines by the time Jacob was starting on his second. He saw her whizzing over to a third. It was just those last two to go. And then get back. Perhaps the mines were not the trouble. It was getting back in time.

About the Author:

Dean F. Wilson was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1987. He started writing at age 11, when he began his first (unpublished) novel, entitled The Power Source. He won a TAP Educational Award from Trinity College Dublin for an early draft of The Call of Agon (then called Protos Mythos) in 2001. His epic fantasy trilogy, The Children of Telm, was released between 2013 and 2014. Dean also works as a journalist, primarily in the field of technology. He has written for TechEye, Thinq, V3, VR-Zone, ITProPortal, TechRadar Pro, and The Inquirer. Find the book on Amazon: And Amazon UK: As well as Barnes and Noble: Read Dean's ramblings on his website: Connect with him via Facebook: Tweet at him: