I was, at first, very confused by the story. But around chapter four I did a quick Google search and realized that I was reading Steampunk. (And that cleared up all my questions.) I've never actually read this genre before, but I liked it. I get the impression that I'd have been better off if I read the series in order, though it was still enjoyable even without the background details. (Really, it's only the first chapter that made me regret going out of order.) It's a good story with interesting characters. It's relatable for those who have ever been treated as an inferior and longed to escape. There's an especially nice love connection.