The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1)
Author: Kady Cross
Publication: June 1st, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: eBook, 480 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Historical Fiction
Read: February 2016
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the “thing” inside her.
When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man….
Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of “them.” The orphaned duke takes her in against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a secret.
Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help–and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.
But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on–even if no one believes her.
Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
It had a really slow start but it had an impact anyway. It was really intricate and there were a lot of different things going on at the same time. There was action and science and mystery. I really enjoyed the paranormal aspects as well as the steampunk gadgets and contraptions which were interesting but not overly complicated. My one problem is that it was predictable, I figured at the villain really quickly.
Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
This is kind of the let down of the book for me. It was really dense and verbose and while I liked that it fit the time period of the book, it made the plot feel dragged and slow and it took me longer to finish reading it than I would’ve liked. It was very detailed and intricate. There were a few POV’s as well with no real rhyme or reason but they were all interesting though.
Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I really enjoyed the majority of the characters. They were all different and special in their own way, in their abilities and in their part of the group they worn, a little itty bitty tiny bit like the X-Men but I felt like they could’ve been explored more than they were. The entire cast are main characters but the focus in this particular book is Finley who is very peculiar. She has very distinct sides to her personality. There’s moment when she’s really shy and sweet, more like a proper young lady of her time would be. And then there are other times when she is kick ass and fiesty and sometimes even a little bit dangerous. I found that really interesting and intriguing, the huge contrast in her personality was something unique to me. But I wish it could’ve been developed and explored a lot more before we saw a change in that aspect. As is usual in Young Adult books there are two main love interests for the main character. And they could not be more different when compared to each other. One of them is sweet and protective and very prim and proper. He’s your perpetual good guy who just wants the best for you but with a little spice in the form of a jealous streak which I found refreshing to his character trope. The other is the complete opposite, the kind of guy you go to when you want something illegal done. He’s mysterious and dark and dangerous but at the same time, protective and sweet to the main character. While he’s considered the bad guy in this situation, he does have redeeming qualities that I was intrigued by. This is probably one of the only books where I would have been okay with a long, drawn out love triangle but the author didn’t take advantage of that potential.
I was a little disappointed with this book but I still enjoyed parts of it.
The plot is intricate. We follow a group of characters who are all a little special in some ways, they all have different specific abilities, as they try to stop the evil plot of a man named The Machinist. I swear, it may sound cheesy but it’s actually a lot cooler than it sounds. The pace is quite slow which bothered me a bit but the plot is really complex and has a lot of moving parts. It reminded me a bit of A Tale of Two Cities where you have various points of views for all the different aspects of the plot and you know a lot more than the characters do. There’s a lot of characters which means a lot of different perspectives which means that you have a lot of different views on everything that’s going on in the story as well as in the relationships between the characters. The down side is that you can see a lot of the twists/surprises from a mile away because if you’re smart and you have all the information (which most characters don’t) you can totally figure out what is going to happen so the plot became predictable quite easily. I don’t feel like it took away from my reading experience because I was still interested to see how things would play out at the end.
Finley is arguably the focus and main character of the story and she suffers from what I like to call Jekyll/Hyde syndrome. She literally has a dual personality. The explanations are kind of a spoiler so I’m going too deep into it but this kind of personality was really interesting to me. The push and pull of both the light and dark side of her and the ramifications it had on her emotionally, mentally and physically were very intriguing. I wish the other would have spent more time with her in that state because it would’ve made the story more dynamic but in the end it wasn’t explored as much as I would’ve liked and the solution was too simple for me. Part of the reason why I felt this book could’ve had a great love triangle is because of this peculiarity of her personality. It’s the only time when I think love triangles are acceptable, when the main character has two parts of herself that desire different things in a partner. It could’ve been so interesting if that had been explored no, but the romance wasn’t the main focus of the plot either way.
There’s an entire cast of characters in this book and these are all special and unique in their own way. Griffin is kind of the leader in a way, he’s very powerful and has a very focused goal in mind. He’s had a dramatic path and he’s very determined to do his part in the world and for his family. Sam, Griffin’s best friend, is a giant mess. He’s very broody and dark and has kind of anger issues because of a lot of crappy things that happened to him. He’s kind of a dufus sometimes and he really frustrated me. He kind of made a lot of bad decisions that screwed a lot of things up for everyone. Emily, who rounds out the main trio of side characters, is a Irish girl with a flare for the intellectual. She’s super kick ass but with her mind, she is funny and sweet but also stands up for herself and those she cares about. I really enjoyed her character and personality and I hear she’s a narrator in one of the other books in the series which makes me super excited. Then there’s Jasper who kind of comes in a little later and he’s an American cowboy (not joking whatsoever). He was really funny and sarcastic but we didn’t get to know him as much until the very last scene when you end up thinking “whu?” And last but not least, Jack Dandy is sort of kind of the villain in this motley crew. He’s not the one that the synopsis speaks up but he’s the antagonist to Griffin. I spoke about their differences above but that was only what we find out about Jack on the surface. I feel like there is so much more to him and it wasn’t explored in this first book. I would love to see more of him and hear more of his back story.
Overall, I like the majority of this book. The characters were interesting and the story kept my attention but the pace was really slow and I feel like a lot of things were underdeveloped. Still it was a good start to a series and I’m looking forward to continuing it.
So that’s it for this review! Let me know if you’ve read this book and your thoughts on it. Let me know what you think of Steampunk and if it’s a genre that you’re interested in trying or not. I’ve become a big fan of it and I’d love to chat about recommendations. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!