God Save the Queen

God Save the Queen
By Kate Locke
Published on July 3, 2012
Published by Orbit
Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

Queen Victoria rules with an immortal fist. 

The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns.

Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key-the prize in a very dangerous struggle.

My thoughts...

God Save the Queen reminds me of a raunchier cousin of Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series.  The Parasol Protectorate books are rooted in intrigue with a healthy does of whimsy, with true steampunk elements mixed in with an alternate universe England rife with vampires and werewolves.  This book riffs on that, and there are a few very close similarities that raised my eyebrows.  But God Save the Queen is overall a darker, grittier book with a brassy, in-your-face main character who isn't exactly willing to make nice with anyone.  Xandra's got a good reason to stop playing by the rules, though, between the disappearance of her sister and the lies and cover-ups she's about to stumble upon.

There's a good mystery in here with some genuine surprises in the plot, and also some moves that are so blatantly telegraphed that they seem to be a surprise only to Xandra.  There is a lot of info-dumping that can be kind of annoying, but that's almost to be expected in any book set in a world differently than ours.  I think the universe has great promise, because there's a lot you can do with an undead Queen Victoria and the interesting social structure that the author's created.  Xandra is a pretty fun, kick-ass heroine, and she's surrounded by a cast of supporting characters who are eyeball-deep in their own intrigue.  I had a few issues with the way Xandra's love interest was developed, as he goes from one-night-stand to constant companion in about zero seconds flat.  I felt that he could have been better developed, as he felt a little stereotypical for his character type (not being more specific so I don't spoil who it is!), but overall I liked him as a balance for Xandra.

There's a lot of strong language, sexual innuendo, and violence in this book, so use caution if recommending to teens or people who try to skip those things.  If you toned down the language and the innuendo, it wouldn't read that differently than most YA books, to be honest -- the sex scenes in God Save the Queen are almost always glossed over, and YA books seem to be peppered with language and violence these days anyway.  I didn't think that this was a perfect book, but it was a quick, genuinely fun read, and if I have the opportunity, I'll probably check out any following sequels.  

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