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Monday, September 3, 2012

Book Review: The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent

TITLE: The Unnaturalists 
SERIES: The Unnaturalists, Book #1
AUTHOR: Tiffany Trent
PUBLISHER:  Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
PUBLICATION DATE: August 14, 2012
FORMAT: Hardcover, 320 pages
GENRE: Science Fiction/Steampunk, Young Adult
ISBN: 9781442422063
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.


I received this Advance Reviewer Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.

I was so excited when I learned about this Young Adult Steampunk novel. The plot sounded to me like a cross between steampunk, fantasy, and dystopia because the protagonist, Vespa, is trying to save the world which is inhabited by mythological creatures. Unfortunately, this book did not live up to my expectations.

The story was told in alternating points of view between Vespa Nyx, a 16 year old teenager, who works with her father in the museum cataloging creatures known as Lesser Unnaturalists (such as sylphids); and Syrus Reed, a 13 year-old boy who is a Tinker and lives in the forest with the rest of the Reed Clan.

Vespa wants nothing more than to be a Pedant, a scholar. Instead, she is approaching the age where a woman must be trained and groomed to find a suitor.

Syrus possesses magical powers. He can speak to and understand the Elementals better than anyone, and he is bound to one of them, a hob named Truffler. Cityfolk are terrified of Tinkers, and they abandon babies who display any magical abilities. The Tinkers are the forest’s last defense to protect the Manticore, whose life is bound to the forest. They stay there in case they ever have to fight. Without the Manticore, the Waste (not really clear what that is, but in my mind I picture something like “The Blob”) would swallow it up. The forest is home to other magical creatures, such as dryads and fairies.

The plot sounded promising, but this book failed to hold my interest. I really struggled with it because I found the world-building to be utterly confusing. It felt like the book was missing a crucial piece of the story, something that would fill in all the blanks. The story was extremely difficult to follow, and I felt hopelessly lost. I even checked into Trent’s backlist to see if this was a sequel in a series, whose debut I hadn’t read yet, in an effort to explain my confusion. I forced myself to keep reading to see if things would start making sense, but I found that the story just became more convoluted.

The cover is gorgeous, but who is this woman? Vespa is described as having auburn hair and green eyes, which doesn’t match the person depicted on the cover! 



  1. I totally 100% agree with you on how confusing this book was. I was SO SO lost and I think the main reason is that the author never really explained who the characters is, who the creatures are, and the writing was so confusing. I also think the cover is GORGEOUS but yea, a disappointment in the end.

    great review though!

    Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

    1. Thanks, Juhina! I'm sorry to hear that you found the book as confusing as I did, but at least I know that there are other people out there who also struggled with it!

  2. Sounds like the author just tried to pull off too much in this one!

    PS. Don't forget to sign up for the 2013 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge!

    ♥ Melissa @ Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

    1. That could very well be, Melissa!

      And, yes, all signed up already :)


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