Cherie Priest's Boneshaker tells the story of a mother (Briar) and son (Zeke) who must survive a world filled with destruction, zombies (rotters), and history. Briar's father is thought to be responsible for turning people into zombies, and her late husband (Levi Blue) created the machine which destroyed Seattle. Therefore, two themes emerge over the course of the novel: power of a name and perseverance.
Briar and Zeke must face the fact that their name associates them with the destruction. Zeke's desire to prove his father was not responsible leads him on his journey the the novel. Zeke, essentially, wants to change how his name is identified.
Given the tribulations that Briar and Zeke face, the novel speaks to perseverance. Zeke leaves with enough provisions to last him 10 days. After 10 days, Zeke's gas mask stops working. Alone, he must learn how to survive. Briar, fearful for her son, must also face the elements of the destroyed world. Both must find a way to survive.