Goodreads Summary: While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure.I had received an e-mail from the publisher announcing the upcoming release of this one, in addition to the fact that they had just gotten their ARCs in, and was immediately captivated by cover and promptly sold by the plot. I HAD TO READ IT. I blame Scott Westerfeld really who sold me on steampunk through his Levithan trilogy.
Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father.
With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.
Emilie is plucky. There really isn't a better word to describe her with. She's just darn plucky. Which is probably the best thing that she could possibly be because the girl is a mishap magnet...and then some. But I think my favorite aspect of her character was that she took everything in stride and she didn't judge books by their covers. She took people as they came to her for who they were and what they were.
I wouldn't have minded more world-building. The world that Martha Wells presented to readers through the eyes of Emilie was immensely fascinating and we did get to "explore" a fair bit of it but I wouldn't have minded more explanations of the people we came across and why things were the way they were in the areas in which they were that way. But that might just be the cultural geek in me craving more details about "fantasy" people. It happens. A lot.
All in all Emilie and the Hollow World is a solid novel. The characters are good, the steampunk aspect is quirky and fun, and the idea of a world within a world is always captivating. Easily a three out of five stars, definitely likeable and an enjoyable steampunk novel for the middle grade set.