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I enjoyed Song of the Slums so much than I expected to.It s a beautiful book about music Music and how it can change a person How it allows people to view things in a different light How it can bring people together.Astor, the main character, is a horrible girl She s vain and self entitled and selfish She s petty and expects people to fall at her feet Despite this, she s actually quite likable Her vanity and expectations of others come across as humorous and it certainly helps that she s put in a situation where she can t afford to be all that she is She s forced to change for the better She, with the help of music, ends up appreciating others much than she did at the beginning of the book Her look changes drastically and she s no obsessed with being the accepted definition of pretty All the spoilt brattish aspects of her slowly dwindle away and stronger aspects that were only flittering through at the start, such as determination, really begin to define her Verrol s an odd one He s mysterious and smooth and has a bit of an anger problem Right from the start it s obvious that he s got a troubling past and while he doesn t really change or grow throughout the book, he becomes clearer and understandable and relatable as a character Somewhere along the line, he stops being this horrible mysterious figure we don t anything about The minor characters were wonderfully done You have Ollifer, who does love music, but desperately wants fame You have Mave who allows music to absorb all of her pain and probably needs to see a psychiatrist of some form There are a few others with very defining traits and purposes that made the book all that much enjoyable.The plot itself I enjoyed I loved to see the band s rise to power and, as I said before, a lot of it was about how music and being in the band was influencing not only the band, but others as well The descriptions were stunning and I could envision the slums and the gangs The descriptions of music was a bit repetitive and for people who have never played music before, I can imagine it would be a bit tedious, but I sort of liked it Music was a big part of the story and I thought that it was reasonable to spend a fair bit of time actually describing the music Politics also became an important part of the plot and while I m shakier on politics, I don t think the book would ve been as good without it While talking about growing as a person and whatnot is great, I feel like without the aspect of politics, this book would ve lacked a real point The only part I didn t like was the big get together It s clear from the beginning of the book that Verrol and Astor are the end game couple and as they grow from acquaintances to friends, it s easy to see how well they fit together In terms of characterisation and interaction, they were good couple But the end, how they actually got together, was a disappointment for me It felt like we d had this whole book of wonderful character building and growth and then their transition into a romantic relationship was over in a snap I just would ve liked to see Overall, an excellent book that I thoroughly enjoyed. THIS ISN T A BAD BOOK Just putting it out there for people who judge 3 stars as meh.I really wanted to rate this 3.5 stars Now I feel bad that I demoted it instead of increased it Sorry Richard Harland So when I saw the description of the book, I admit I didn t sound too interested I bought the book because I read his other book WORLDSHAKER and loved it Think I rated it 5 But I read SONG OF THE SLUMS anyway and I have to give credit to Harland s writing style for keeping me engaged in a plot that I didn t necessarily support from the beginning I loved the first act and the main character Astor, though there were some of her parts that I questioned I liked the situation Harland chose to put her in and the way she reacted her attitude towards certain events Maybe I didn t support all of her decisions, but it certainly made her an interesting character And Verrol I loved him and his backstory, and his personality I do like how he turned out to be view spoiler one of the Starks and is actually an ex killer hide spoiler @Free Epub Ï Song of the Slums ë Seventeen Year Old Astor Thinks She Is About The Wed The Handsome Plutocrat Lorrain Swale But, To Her Horror, Her Mother And Step Father Abandon Her, And She Finds Herself A Lowly Governess In The Swale Household Treated With Contempt By The Whole Family, Astor Is Determined To Escape Help Arrives Unexpectedly In The Form Of The Laconic And Mysterious Verrol Together They Plunge Into The Slums Of Brummingham And Find Themselves In A Street Band, Making Wild Music A New Kind Of Music That S Set T Take The World By Storm But The Swale Brothers Haven T Finished With Them Yet A nice YA steampunk, a good gateway drug to the rest of the genre Had the ending spoiled by the author but overall quite good also he had this badass steampunk guitar that I recommend seeing I m not a much of a fan of the steampunk genre I am, however, a huge fan of Richard Harland the Vicar of Morbing Vyle is in my top 10 books of all time so I was fairly sure I was going to enjoy this one In many ways the humour in Song of the Slums reminds me of that in Vicar, particularly the Swales brothers and the horrid child, Widdy The characters are all different, interesting and well developed The steampunk history re imagines post WWI England, with disenfranchised returned soldiers, widespread poverty, all pollution, and insatiably greedy industrialists plutocrats Hopefully this will be the first of a series I also think it would be a good basis for a movie I d like to hear the gang music realised with songwriting input from the author of course While Richard Harland seems to have been very busy attending various steampunk conventions, it concerns me somewhat that he hasn t put out a new novel since this was published in 2013 Highly recommended. This was probably like 2.5 stars for me I loved the first section I mean, how can you not love a steampunk y YA story in which the female protagonist thinks she s en route to get engaged to one of the most eligible bachelors in the land only to discover that her stepfather has actually contracted her to be governess to his niece and nephews but then so much of the middle of the book was caught up in forming a band and musical stuff that I didn t really care about I loved the world building and the background of the rebellion coup whatever But the band side of things, despite ultimately being incredibly significant, frequently dragged the pace of the story down and almost pulled me out of the world that Harland had created The romantic subplot was apparent from the get go, but petered out midway through the story only to be brought back in a rush towards the end Despite being brought back, it felt a little underdeveloped, and incomplete It almost ended up feeling like two completely different books one about music and one about a girl who finds herself in the middle of a political upheaval that had been crammed together into one I wanted to like it a lot, but it ended up falling short. Nice little book I picked up this book off a shelf in the library, read the blurb and thought aw this seems pretty cute I ll give it a go and then accidentally fell in love with it Astor is a noble, yes, and she retains some of those pompous qualities but as the story progresses her wilder side comes out and i absolutely loved that the fact that in the beginning of the book, she s sneered at by the plutocrats as too soft and without character and instead of wallowing in self pity, she sits up and takes on the world with music and passion the characters in the book are all so nuanced and complicated all flawed Astor and her naivety at the start, Verrol and his struggle with his violent past unlike most YA books, where violence seems almost coveted in the main male protagonist , in Song of the Slums, Verrol actively stands against war and feuding because of what his past taught him, and learns from his mistakes something I especially appreciated considering how novels usually fare with this Ollifer and his narcissism , yet all so relatable even if you don t like them, you believe in their possibility and potential And the romance between Astor and Verrol tbh Their differences in terms of experiences and personality and how they deal with that had me totally engaged Their relationship is raw and based on mutual respect, though filled with confrontational attitude and tension they know each other s strengths and weaknesses, and it comes across with their emotional honesty Astor is spirited, and she knows what she wants, and understands that Verrol, though inclined to irony, hides his pride and vulnerability beneath They respect each other She understands his problems and he hers, and that bond of respect is what convinces me both characters would know when to draw the line, despite struggling with their issues to better themselves in order for the other to respect them Though one scene in particular comes to mind when view spoiler Astor announces Lorraine Swale s proposal Verrol gets passionate then, and bitter words are exchaged all with a tinge of honesty, and neither stands for the other s problems Verrol with her unwillingness to view past the promised luxury, and Astor with his rage I m not going to deny it was a bit of a let down for me that the author didn t have them discuss this conversation outright I felt that was essentially what was lacking from the relationship though I m also glad this is the only time he becomes aggressive for a reason other than self defense throughout the course of the book it s a marked difference, as mentioned before, from other books of this nature, and the character development shows , hide spoiler I ll admit I was wary when I opened the package from Allen Unwin and found this book inside I d never heard of it, and although I love steampunk and alternate history, I worried about how much I could enjoy a book so centrally focussed on music after all, I know next to nothing about music I shouldn t have worried Song of the Slums is a delightful read, rhythmic and romantic at the same time.The book begins with Astor, who thinks she s about to wed the handsome plutocrat Lorrain Swale To her horror and mine , she s abandoned by her mother and step father and forced to become a governess for the Swale children petulant, stubborn and disagreeable creatures, all three of them I sympathised with Astor s plight, and admired her tenacity as she continued teach the children every day, despite their hostility When the children turn on her and she s forced out of the household, Astor relies heavily on her servant Verrol, who, it turns out, has secrets of his own Their only hope for survival is to join a street gang It s a far cry from the luxury Astor is accustomed to, but she adapts remarkably well, and I liked witnessing the vibrant, smoky atmosphere through her eyes.The camaraderie between members of the slum gangs is endearing, and I liked the relationships between the members of the band, The Rowdies The band coalesces wonderfully, and they grew to love and respect one another, and I relished the attachment between the only two girls in the band, Mave and Astor The Song of the Slums explores their friendships and bonds, and also allows love to blossom in the unlikeliest of places, and I laughed a lot reading about the characters bumble over their romances.Behind the basic plot line of survival is another story, one of poverty, courage, politics and war, which the slum gangs get involved in because of the influence of their music Song of the Slums cleverly explores the consequences of war, the ex soldiers and heavy industrialisation that have no place in a world of peace, the plight of the slum children who were press ganged into service, and the power music has over all our souls The book isn t heavy handed with these concepts, but they allow for a richer plot, filled with nuance and intrigue.Readers with a soft spot for steampunk will appreciate the gaslight fantasy of The Song of the Slums, and readers looking for quick, absorbing read will not go wrong by picking it up I am very glad I read this, and I think you will be too.A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.You can read of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic. A story of a young woman who falls from high society into the slums She survives with the help of her servant who has a dark secret Fortunately, they fall in with a gang whose matron has a vision of creating the best gang music of all time While finding their sound, they invent rock and roll in the nineteenth century Some of the romance was predictable, some of the characters were over the top, but overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable ride that made me want to tap my toes to my favorite steampunk bands.