The Unnaturalists (The Unnaturalists #1)
by Tiffany Trent
published by Simon & Schuster
genre: YA, Fantasy, Steampunk
Summary (Goodreads): In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.
Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.
As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.
My Thoughts: Tiffany Trent did a wonderful job on the world building for this story/series. It's an alternate steampunk London that has completely bought into science all the way and forgotten the magic that brought them to New London. In the process of furthering their science they have been killing off all the magical creatures that called the land home before they showed up, this in turn is killing the land with something called The Waste. This was probably my favorite story line of the book.
Characters, this is were it fell short for me. Vespa was a great fully fleshed out character. All she wanted was to follow in her father's footsteps and become a Pedant and study the Unnaturals. Everyone else has other plans for her. Whether it is to become a lady and marry well or prove her true heritage and use her to further their own schemes she has to learn to deal with all these things while trying to stay who she thinks she truly is.
Unfortunately, Vespa was the only full character. Syrus is a lead and we get many chapters from him but we really don't ever get anything that makes you want to know more or care fully when something bad happens to him. With everything that happens to him during this story and the fact that he is the only one that can speak to the Unnaturals and read the old texts it was a real missed opportunity. He only seemed to show up to further another's story rather than following his own.
There is a slight romance in this story but at this point it doesn't really interest me. It has potential down the road but it was hard to buy into Vespa suddenly being dependent on Hal when the author spent so much time making her a forward thinking female that wanted to break boundaries.
Overall, based on the great world building and Vespa I am looking forward to the next book in this series. It'll be interesting to see if Ms Trent does anything further with Syrus and his new (unwanted) abilities. I'm also interested in finding out more about this new Empress and her story.