The At Boundary’s Edge team has narrowed our original allocation down from 28 books to 7 “Quarterfinalists”, all of which we are now reading in full and scoring out of 10 points. The top three books will move forward as semifinalists. As always, this is my own review and reflects only my own individual opinion and score, not that of the team
Welcome to my third “quarterfinalist” review here! Let’s take a quick look at the book first, then I’ll share my thoughts!
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: The Diamond Device
- Series: N/A
- Author: M.H. Thaung
- Release: Self published, 2020
- Length: 270 pages
- Rating: Scoring 5.5/10 for SPSFC
Here’s the synopsis via Am*zon:
After diamond power promises to replace steam, an unemployed labourer and a thieving noble unite to foil an international plot and avert a war.
Alf Wilson resents the new technology that cost him his factory job, especially as his clockwork leg bars him from army enrolment. He daren’t confess his unemployment to his overbearing mother. Desperate over the rent, he ends up in a detention cell with a hangover.
Impoverished Lord Richard Hayes maintains his expensive parliamentary seat by a mixture of charm and burglary. During a poorly planned break-in, he inadvertently witnesses a kidnapping. To cap it all, the police arrest him for the crime. At least he’s using a fake identity. The real criminals make off with not just the professor who discovered diamond power, but her plans for a diamond-fuelled bomb.
When Rich encounters Alf in the neighbouring cell, he sees an opportunity to keep his noble reputation intact. He persuades Alf he’s a secret agent who needs an assistant. This chance association will take them to the oddest locations. But law-abiding Alf’s first assignment? Break Rich out of jail.
First and foremost in my mind is that The Diamond Device is a shorter, fast paced read that is exceptionally light on sci-fi for what I was expecting to read here. It’s a variation on steam punk where diamonds are newly used as a power source, but there’s no indication on how it works including from the character trying to assemble a device or from the scientist who created it. Anyway, we decided it’s close enough, so genre questions did not affect my score.
Overall I enjoyed the read through. The pacing was steady, with bursts of action tempered by fairly low consequences in most cases. The writing is solid, flowing, and easily digestible. It just all felt more like a cozy British mystery to me than sci-fi, complete with blundering policemen and over the top shenanigans.
The characters are likeable, a lord and a laborer. Watching them try to mix their worlds and work together was the most entertaining part for me, especially so once a hilariously temperamental cop was thrown into the mix. That said, the character’s reactions to major events felt so muted that I almost wondered if the author wasn’t targeting a young adult audience, although no indication of this is given.
Science or lack of it aside, I think Thaung managed to cram an amazing amount of world building into the pages too. We see all about how the classes live, the airships, what they eat, how they comport themselves, and political relations.
Overall, I think it was a fun and inoffensive book full of shenanigans. If you like light steampunk you might want to check out The Diamond Device!
Thanks for checking out my review of The Diamond Device. A free e-copy was provided for judging purposes and as always, all opinions are my own ♥️