The heart of this story is a mother-son relationship. With it comes all the bumps and heart-felt experiences that a single mother has while raising a child on her own--guilt, mistakes, pride, worry, and sadness as a little boy grows up. If this appeals to you, then you will likely enjoy the book.
Outside the heart, the rest is window dressing:
- An apocalyptic city (Seattle) to harbor outlaws and allow quirky characters to scramble while adjusting to lawlessness. Some alternative history is mentioned, mainly to cover plot holes, I think.
- Zombies, of course, just to keep everyone running from time to time and add tension where there really isn't any
- Allusions to technology here and there so the novel's genre can be tagged as steampunk, because, well, steampunk is cool, I guess
- A secret whose big reveal is What happens is pretty much what the reader expects will happen.
- Emotional outpouring at the end
- Mostly adequate writing with some ughs! here and there
So, I don't know. The experience was like eating vanilla, but not the precious, pure vanilla bean vanilla that wakes up taste buds--no--more like the common ice cream vanilla. Just not that deep. No insights from the world-building. As for the mother-son relationship, I cared more about Crake, a daemonist in hiding and his armored golem, Bess--there was real, heart-wrenching guilt! [b:Retribution Falls|6285903|Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay, #1)|Chris Wooding|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1338104818s/6285903.jpg|6470079] -- now that's a steampunk novel!!