Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Soho Teen
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Steampunk | Young Adult-Middle Grade
The year is 1908. Seventeen-year-old Rosalind Wallace’s blissful stay in England with her best friend, Cecily de Vere, has come to an abrupt end, which is fine with Rosalind. She was getting tired of being high society Cecily’s American “pet.” Her industrialist father is unveiling his fabulous new Transatlantic Express, the world’s first underwater railway. As a publicity stunt he has booked her on the maiden voyage—without asking. Rosalind is furious. But lucky for her, Cecily and her handsome older brother, Charles, volunteer to accompany her home.
Fun turns to worry when Charles disappears during boarding. Then, deep under the sea, Cecily and her housemaid, Doris, are found stabbed to death in their state room. Rosalind is now trapped on Father’s train—fighting to clear herself of her friend’s murder, to find the killer, and ultimately to uncover the sinister truth behind the railway’s construction.
Note I used could've up there and here's why.
For all the great stuff that THE TRANSATLANTIC CONSPIRACY has going on for it, I find that there's also a few things that it needs to give the story depth and dimension. For a "conspiracy" there's a lack of precedence, some notable inconcistencies, and the characters are shallow and still underdeveloped in the end:
- Precedence like no clue that there's some political issue at work here which would put this monumental and historical train launch more significant. It can be subtle like news articles, a short interlude to paint that there's some tension? Versus giving us all the details in the end, failing to build tension, suspense, and thrill throughout the story.
- Inconsistencies such as Rosalind is an heiress launching her father's latest engine and the family/company's representative and yet she doesn't have a staff on board like a lady's maid or some sort of entourage to help her entertain guests and the passengers. Rosalind came across as very common which makes her protestations about social standing a little strange.
- The characters are very superficial which is a shame because Rosalind is supposedly a modern and daring woman, driving motorcars and a suffragette, a woman beyond her time. Cecily is a girly-girl but loves clocks and even makes them! Charles, Cecily's brother and Rosalind's love interest, is in absentia, and only Alix, their German bookworm friend, remained consistent with her character traits. Rosalind in particular is a disappointment, for a lead, she's very passive in this book. I expected her to take charge because she's the heroine and the shenanigans are all happening in HER TRAIN!
- Finally, the action-packed ending where everything is revealed but because of what I mentioned in #1, the climax-conflict-resolution didn't connect well with the premise.