Review: Uncrashable Dakota by Andy Marino

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Rating: 2.5 / 5
Genres: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Steampunk, Mystery
Release Date: November 12, 2013
Publisher: Henry, Holt and Co.
Number of pages: 320
Source: ARC from Netgalley
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In 1862, Union army infantryman Samuel Dakota changed history when he spilled a bottle of pilfered moonshine in the Virginia dirt and stumbled upon the biochemical secret of flight. Not only did the Civil War come to a much quicker close, but Dakota Aeronautics was born.

Now, in Andy Marino’s Uncrashable Dakota, it is 1912, and the titanic Dakota flagship embarks on its maiden flight. But shortly after the journey begins, the airship is hijacked. Fighting to save the ship, the young heir of the Dakota empire, Hollis, along with his brilliant friend Delia and his stepbrother, Rob, are plunged into the midst of a long-simmering family feud. Maybe Samuel’s final secret wasn’t just the tinkering of a madman after all. . . .

What sinister betrayals and strange discoveries await Hollis and his friends in the gilded corridors and opulent staterooms? Who can be trusted to keep the most magnificent airship the world has ever known from falling out of the sky?

REVIEW

The publisher is going to hate me for this… but yeah.

One of the reasons why I didn’t write a review right after I read this book was because I didn’t really have anything to say, aside from the fact that it was forgettable. I thought I just needed a wee bit more time before officially submitting my insight, despite the dangers of forgetting it even more with the passing of time. But, hey, I live the dangerous life, so bring it on, yeah? #MedyoBadGirl

So here I am, almost more than a month has passed, and instead of providing criticism or praise, I am typing filler to at least give it a fair amount of character count (like I said, I live the dangerous life…). I search near and wide, even going as far as the deepest pits of my mind for anything… ANYTHING at all… but I still cannot scrounge up anything to say about this book. Aside, of course, from the fact that it was forgettable. But way back in University, I mainly survived by cramming (Cram Culture FTW), as when I am pinched for time is when my creative juices start to really come out and overflow, so let’s just pretend I am in that situation (I am really typing filler here… #MedyoBadGirl).

So… let’s just say this book is kind of Titanic-ish, but instead of a boat in water, it’s a huge vessel soaring in the sky, an innovative technology made possible due to a certain kind of beetle that can somehow make stuff fly. There has been a hijacking, and the protagonists are set to find out who masterminded it and to stop it before… you know… things end up horribly wrong.

Sigh… this was really forgettable. Even that summary is mediocre by my standards. But, I digress.

Anyway, if I find something unforgettable, it usually means I couldn’t connect to the story or the characters, and I think that’s what happened here. The narration, I felt, didn’t leave much room for me to personally sympathize with their plight, although I’ll blame the fact the chapters were kind of all over the place. There were three protagonists and it would often jump from one character to the other, with some dedicated to a backstory that happened back in time during the war, which we will later learn has a significant role in the hijacking. To be honest, I am not fond of this kind of writing as I would rather be emotionally invested in one or two characters, instead of having a broader view of many of them (as per the saying “Quality over quantity”). It didn’t help that it also felt kind of monotonous, with little to no internal narration (at least from what I remember, because otherwise, I wouldn’t have been bored to death).

I thought the plot was kind of confusing, too. When I was reading it, I remember scratching my heads at certain moments that seemed to come out of nowhere… like they were totally random. I definitely feel this would have worked better if it was targeted for teenagers or adults, as children protagonists handling a serious hijacking seems a bit unrealistic and doesn’t leave room for a lot of drama and internal conflict.

Would I recommend this book? Although I didn’t hate it, I obviously did not like it either, and it wasn’t emotionally fulfilling enough for me to remember all the details even right after I finished it. While I wouldn’t be running down the street cursing its name and warning people to get away from it, I also certainly wouldn’t be busy urging people to get it, either. I wouldn’t recommend something I didn’t enjoy, lest alone even remember half of it, to my friends and family. :/ Hopefully, my next read of this author’s works would be better.

Final Verdict: (?) 2.5

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Faye

Faye

A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena

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    • FayeFaye says

      Sigh, I know, dude. It took my several tries and several long moments of staring at a blank review page before I could even think of anything to say. For some reason, I think that’s worse than a negative review… a negative review still, in the end, gave you a lasting impression. A book you have nothing to say about? That’s kinda akin to forgetting about its existence… ouch! haha.

  1. says

    Oh no, it’s really difficult to write a review when nothing about it makes it stand out! I can feel your pain, I try and review books a few days after finishing them so I can squeeze out something. Thanks Faye! :)

  2. says

    Oh no! >< A forgettable book is definitely not one that most will likely want to read! And yes, it's always hard to write a review for a novel that's elements don't have anything unique at all… The premise did look interesting… but I guess it wasn't carried through right in the end :( But you still were a dear to give it 2.5 stars when every element seems to be lacking!
    Fantastic review though!! :D

    • FayeFaye says

      Well, while it was very forgettable, it wasn’t a bad book by any means… it really just doesn’t stand out. :(

      Thank you so much!: )

  3. says

    Oh wow that cover is so cool! I really like it. I dont even think I’ve seen it before. Too bad the actual book is not as memorable, though. I find characters make or break it for me especially in MG novels. If I don’t like them or don’t connect to them the rest of the book falls flat regardless. Though the plot in this one doesn’t sound fantastic either. Hopefully your next read will be better!

    • FayeFaye says

      Thanks! My next read wasn’t any better, but at least it gave an impact, albeit little. Haha. I agree with your assessment re: MG novels… since I know the story is oftentimes too young for me, I have to rely on the characters to suck me in.