Book Review: Storming: A Dieselpunk Adventure by K.M. Weiland

Storming: A Dieselpunk Adventure Book Cover Storming: A Dieselpunk Adventure
K. M. Weiland
Speculative Fiction
PenForASword Publishing
December 4th, 2015
Purchased for myself

In the high-flying, heady world of 1920s aviation, brash pilot Robert “Hitch” Hitchcock’s life does a barrel roll when a young woman in an old-fashioned ball gown falls from the clouds smack in front of his biplane. As fearless as she is peculiar, Jael immediately proves she’s game for just about anything, including wing-walking in his struggling airshow. In return for her help, she demands a ride back home . . . to the sky.

Hitch thinks she’s nuts—until he steers his plane into the midst of a bizarre storm and nearly crashes into a strange airship like none he’s ever run afoul of, an airship with the power to control the weather. Caught between a corrupt sheriff and dangerous new enemies from above, Hitch must take his last chance to gain forgiveness from his estranged family, deliver Jael safely home before she flies off with his freewheeling heart, and save his Nebraska hometown from storm-wielding sky pirates.

Cocky, funny, and full of heart, Storming is a jaunty historical/dieselpunk mash-up that combines rip-roaring adventure and small-town charm with the thrill of futuristic possibilities.

Moving away from my usual book review format now that I’m not reading specifically for the Auroras!

I picked up Storming on my own. I know K. M. Weiland from online, as she’s an author who supports other writers with encouragement and resources. Once in a while we trade tweets, and that’s about the extent of our relationship.

I like science fiction & fantasy and thanks to the work of William Gibson, I’m familiar with cyberpunk. Dieselpunk…not so much. To be honest, Storming felt more like an adventure novel with a few dieselpunk elements. We don’t get as deep into the “punk” as I would expect from my experience with the related cyber genre. That said, at 400+ pages, there is a ton of world-building involved. I wouldn’t be surprised if Weiland continued the story as a series, progressively immersing the reader into the world and dipping her toes further into the genre.

Jael and Hitch are both interesting, well-rounded, and pleasant characters to spend time with. You get  real sense of Hitch’s frustration, trying to be the good-guy of the story, trying to do things for all the right reasons. Jael…I have a hard time with her. English isn’t her first language, and I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce her name (Jay-el? Yale? Yay-el? Jail? Jah-eel? You see my problem?). I kept expecting her to have a bit of “the chosen one” pop out at any given time…and was happy to find that wasn’t the case. She really seems to be what she says she is.

The romance angle is downplayed. Yes, there’s attraction, but I could happily give this book to my niece and nephew (tween/early teens respectively) and not have my sister-in-law yell at me for corrupting young minds. Let’s just say that there wouldn’t be a replay of my grandmother’s reaction to finding me reading Jackie Collins at age thirteen. Even better, the kids would probably like the story! There are aerial stunts, high-flying adventure, airships, and (a touch of) romance. What’s not to like?

That said, there were a few places where the story bogged down in specifics and I resented the fact that my Kobo wanted to tell me how far I had read through a section, rather than how many pages into the book (I’ve since fixed this). Conversely, though, I had other moments where I marvelled at the fast action-pacing, and again resented the fact that I couldn’t see where I was in the book.

Sidebar – I’m one of those people who will actually note how far through a book a scene will take place – usually subconsciously, like “huh…I’m only 2/3 of the way through…what else can they throw at me from here?” This is why I love paper books for being able to figure this out by actual touch. The Kobo can go pretty well anywhere, but I still have to visualize percentages rather than just pinch pages and/or cover together.

The bottom line – was it worth the $5? Yes. Definitely. I do not feel that my time was wasted in any way, shape, or form. Did I enjoy it? Yes! There could have been more punk to the diesel, but that may come in future books. As a beginning, it was a good story.  I’ll be putting K. M. Weiland on my watchlist for her next book.

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