The Girl in the Steel Corset (The Steampunk Chronicles)
by Kady Cross
Release Date: May 24, 2011
2011 Harlequin Teen
Softcover Edition ARC; 480 Pages
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from San Francisco Book Review
4 / 5 Stars
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 with one punch..
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 from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits. And Finley thinks she might finally be a part of something, finally fit in - until a criminal threatens to tear the group apart...
The Girl in the Steel Corset was a very enjoyable start to what appears to be a new steampunk series for those fans who really enjoy this genre. And there was certainly a lot to enjoy as with with a mechanical cat, velocycles, the aether machine, and other devices that had functions similar to what we would use in our modern world, but with clearly that steampunk element, Ms. Cross certainly demonstrates her understanding of steampunk in her novels. It was a delight to come across each new invention, all woven with a thread of the supernatural, as the events unfolded, and I couldn't wait to see what would be invented or unveiled next. It would seem incongruous to see some of these things in 1897, but so many things were being invented during this time period and it always seemed to me the time when ideas were exploding and as electricity was lighting our streets, the setting just fits perfectly with the steampunk concept of this novel.
I really enjoyed all of the characters in this novel, including Finley, the main character. I really liked the juxtaposition of the good girl/bad girl concept of her character and wished the author had used this a little more in her novel as it seemed so interesting; and yes, it would definitely have raised the complexity of the plot a notch as well as the characters would have been far less trusting with each other and some really fascinating developments could have occurred. It's too bad really as the plot is one area in which I felt there was a bit of a letdown as I found it somewhat predictable and unexciting. I also felt like there were way too many coincidences in this novel; what's wrong with the characters getting in a lot of trouble once in a while instead of always being saved by a coincidence? It sometimes takes the fun and the excitement out of the reading experience. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy the novel, but I didn't find the build-up to be there for me and there was definitely no big final scene as I anticipated the outcome. Thank goodness I really enjoyed the characters as they really made the novel so interesting for me. What I really found interesting was how the morals of Victorian England popped out once in a while in the midst of all this butt-kicking, and it just seemed so at odds with what was going on. You know, at one point we have ladies kicking and punching their way out of situations, and then suddenly, it's wrong to show an ankle to a man, or you have to drink your tea in such a manner when just minutes ago, you were upside down trying to save someone's life. The whole ambiguity of this time period just stands out so much more amidst all of this action and it makes you think as well as puts things in perpective. Society and the morals always come first.
Is there romance? Of course there is romance, and I found this scenario interesting and full of possibilities. Finley finds herself attracted to two personalities, Griff and Jack, both completely opposite to the other, matching her yin-yang personalities. Griff is the rich, entitled man, used to getting what he wants, while Jack is the bad boy, who controls the darker sides of the city, also used to getting what he wants. It will be interesting to see where this love triangle ends up in future novels and I am looking forward to the entanglements.
The Girl in the Steel Corset was a fun, enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading steampunk or young adult. While I did find the plot somewhat predictable and coincidental, there were enough other things in it made it definitely worth the read; enjoyable characters, interesting dialogue (with references to classic literature such as Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde), quirky inventions, and action that flowed quickly from scene to scene. If this is the kind of genre that interests you, then take a look at an interesting new series.