The Girl in the Steel Corset (The Steampunk Chronicles 1)
by Kady Cross
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: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy 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 little 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 it seems no one believes her.
Once again I was intrigued by how an author, in this case the wonderful Kady Cross, was going to connect seemingly opposite ideas into a book. The first time this happened was with Rosemary Clement-Moore's "Texas Gothic" and the outcome was wonderful. The result this time is just as amazing. Ms. Kady Cross has astounded me with her fresh characters and ideas.
Okay so I don't have any experience with steam punk books, so if you're an expert or lover of steam punk don't hold my review against me. I do however have experience reading YA books. As far as YA novels go, this is a gosh darn good book. There are love triangles (yes plural), mystery and intrigue, super-human abilities, technology, history,
Finley Jayne (isn't that such a fresh and fun name?) is a very thought provoking character. She tries to surpress this other side of herself that is extremely dangerous. When her dark side does emerge it's sarcastic, unwavering, unfearful, super strong, and very unlike Finley. The revelation of her who her father is, and the introduction of her mother and stepfather provide a glimpse into just how troubled Finley is. It was surprising to learn Finely had a home that she could potentially go to. Finley's character really shined when it was revealed she left her home because of the danger she put her family in. I like Finley- she's spunky, surprising, and in need of a little good luck. I mean in the first chapter of the book she's attacked by her employer! Finley really goes through a lot in this book and I was pleased with the development of her relationships with the other characters. I was so happy when she started trusting and becoming friends with Griffin's gang.
Finley has rather dashing romantic interests in the forms of Griffin King and Jack Dandy. Now I'm normally one to be wary of the dark, bad boy because it seems every leading lady ends up with said guy, but Mr. Dandy is not the average bad boy. He's so...James Dean-like (at least that's how I picture him). He's cool, reserved, powerful, rich, and one not to mess with. He is the perfect match to Finley's dark side. I especially love how she seeks him out and keeps meeting him, despite his warning. I can't wait for that dinner between Finley and Jack- it's going to be intense I'm sure. Of course Dandy's opposite, is the Prince Charming Griffin King. Light and Dark are what these two are. Griffin is the match for Finley's normal side. He's a handsome Duke who is fiercely loyal to his friends and yet very sweet. Griffin is the good guy to Dandy's bad boy. I mean really Finley has quite the options and I'm on the edge of my seat to see how this plays out because I have a feeling Dandy and Griffin aren't the types to go down without a fight. (I'm sure we're all waiting for the inevitable fight over the girl *excitement*)
Some people may grumble at the chasteness of the romance in this book, but I like it. Finley just met these guys and her actions are very much in character. It would seem strange to me for a defensive and reserved girl like Finley to all of a sudden start makingout with a guy she just met. That could just be me. Anyway it builds up the tension when there hasn't been a lot of contact or intimacy.
Oh, but reader be happily warned, you're going to enjoy more than just Finley and her leading men. The other characters in this series are just as unique, complex, and lovable. First, Ms. Emily O'Brien the tiny, delicate Irish girl who is incredibly smart. In fact she's an engineer, medic, and mechanic. Emily is also in love with Sam, although it takes awhile for him to start acting right toward her. Oh and she's got the eye of another handsome hunk too.
Half-robot Sam Morgan and American cowboy Jasper just can't seem to take their eyes off of Emily. By the way, don't you just love how quirky this cast of characters is?! Emily saved Sam's life, and continues to save him in more ways then one. He's troubled by his disgust of robots, yet the undenable truth that he is part robot. I feel so bad for him, because he feels betrayed by his closest friends when he discovers just how robotic he truly is. I also am disgusted by who Sam turns to for consolence, although I don't blame him. While poor Sam is hating Emily, and trying to bury his feelings for her, Jasper strolls right into the picture flirting away. There's always that one charming and humorously flirty character, well Jasper lives up to the description. This cowboy's far from the West and helping out his friends in England. Jasper is your classic cowboy, so you can be jealous of Emily right about now. Of course Jasper's got a secret, one that's about to take this merry band of men (and women) across the ocean.
Of course there's more to any good book than just wonderful characters. There's plot! The Machinist plot line was good, but I was able to catch on to what was going to happen quickly. There were a couple twists that I wasn't expecting, but for the most part I knew where this was headed. I was just hoping a little more surprise and twists would have been present to keep me guessing until the end. The plot line about the Organites and the abilities really intrigued me, although at one point I thought it was a little strange. I don't want to spoil anything so it'll suffice to say that I can't wait to see how this is expanded in the rest of the series.
My big complaint about this book is that it ended! You see I have a love/hate relationship with book series. I love that I get to read more about the characters and settings since there are multiple books. I also love that plot lines can have longer time frames and that in general more can happen. But I despise waiting for each book to come out- it kills me because I desperately want to know what happens next. I really need to learn patience in this aspect. So that's my not-really-a-real-complaint-complaint. On the same note I am SO excited for the rest of this series.
The only other thing that slightly off to me was that I felt a lot was going on at once. There was a lot to take in, 477 pages to be exact. Now I truly enjoy longer books, because I like to really get to know the characters and the story, and I liked the length of this book. I just felt like there was a lot to absorb; the love triangles, the mystery plot line, the technology, the superpowers, and the back stories of the characters. With that said, I have a feeling, and am hoping, that all of these things will become more prominent in future parts of the series. That's one of the reasons I want the rest of the series to be out now so I can read more.
*This book was provided by the publisher on NetGalley.