Drinking: Earl Grey Classic, Fortnum & Mason
"Adventure! Romance! MAD SCIENCE!"
I absolutely LOVED Agatha H & the Airship City. It is quite possibly the best science fiction book I have read in a long time. It is the novelization of the first part of the Foglio's webcomic, Girl Genius. The couple tells the story of Agatha Clay, a young woman in a steampunk alternate Europe ruled by "Sparks," or mad mechanical scientists.
Agatha is spunky, irrelevant, and fairly confident despite her lack of Spark. Although she has her doubts about her abilities compared to her mentor, Dr. Beetle. When Beetle, the Tyrant of Beetlesburg, is overthrown by Baron Wulfenbach, the ruler of most of Europa, Agatha's life is thrown into disarray. She is kidnapped by the Baron's men and brought to his flying castle to assist a man the Baron thinks has the Spark. It is here that Agatha's adventure truly begins. She meets other young hostages of the Baron, develops a romance, and finds out what is really going on in the castle.
This is also the story of Agatha coming into herself, becoming fully confident in her abilities and her role in the world. When her true identity is finally revealed, the reader is unsurprised. When she accepts that identity, the reader cheers. The only downside is that some of the mysterious side plots are left unresolved - I'll have to start reading the webcomic to find out what happens next!
If you like science fiction, steampunk, or strong heroines, Agatha H & the Airship City is for you. The webcomic is also available in book form, if you prefer the original, but the novel is very well written with beautiful prose as well.