Series: The Steampunk Chronicles #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 24, 2011
Genres: historical fiction, science fiction, steampunk, young adult
Buy it: Amazon • Add it: Goodreads
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.
Despite a lot of Goodreads reviews to the contrary, this book was pretty awesome. And I think that’s reflected in the fact that it’s managed to hang on to a 3.90 rating on GR in spite of the naysayers. I’ll admit it, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d feel about this one at first. I originally started it almost two years ago when it was first published – I can’t remember now why I never finished it, except that I set it aside for something else instead (not because it was a drop). I later read The Strange Case of Finley Jayne (a prequel novella) when it came out and I told myself I’d go back and catch up on the series but there were so many other books I was (more) interested in reading and by this time I’d started a new job that didn’t allow me to read very often at all, so I was VERY picky about what I spent my time on.
Fast forward to early May. I’ve started a book blog and am seeking out ARCs to read and review and – lo and behold – there’s the third title in this series, The Girl with the Iron Touch. I knew I hadn’t read the other two books in the series but I requested it anyway. The Universe heard my prayers and I was approved by the wonderful folks over at Harlequin Teen! So of course, to properly review the 3rd book, I needed to know what had been happening in the first two. *insert happy book acquisition here*
Now that I’ve read it, I wonder why it took me so long. Kady Cross has managed to find a steampunk/science fiction sweet spot and firmly plant herself in it. The Girl in the Steel Corset delivers in so many ways – a strong heroine who still manages to be vulnerable and relatable, plenty of historical backdrop meshed with advanced technology, a budding romance (or two, or three), and some plain ol’, down home ass-kicking. There’s snark and attitude, there’s pomp and circumstance, and there’s SOME ACTUAL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.
Case in point: Jack Dandy. I loved how Cross gave us a peek into his personal world but he still managed to remain so dark and mysterious and terribly charming. And Finley herself – talk about somebody who flip-flops between personalities. For a lot of people this was a huge turn-off, but I rather enjoyed it. Maybe that’s just because she reminded me of the personality nutcase I am. :D We also learn quite a bit about the ringleading Duke of Greythorne,
Hottie McHott Griffin, his best friend (and brawn) Sam, the amazingly intelligent (brain wizard) Emily, the interestingly aloof American cowboy Jasper, and even Griffin’s young aunt Cordelia.
The book isn’t all perfection – I can understand a lot of reviewers complaints even though I disagree with most of them. There are some contradictions that may bother the average reader (although for me these just played into Finley’s sort of Jekyll and Hyde dilemma) and if Sam wasn’t one of the most boneheaded, annoying characters I’ve ever read then my name isn’t Shannon – and it is. But thankfully I can say, without spoiling too much, that he does come to redeem himself in future books. So as much as he makes you wish the book was made of glass so you could throw it and BREAK ALL THE THINGS, don’t give up on him!
Overall I found the story to be highly entertaining on a number of levels and would happily recommend it. For that, and for the fact that it made me want to go buy every corset I could find and maybe even take some martial arts lessons, I’ve given it a solid 4 stars. This is a great read – female empowering and unforgettable.