14 December 2011

Book Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

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.

Let it be known that this was my first real foray into the world of steampunk, and it helped CONSIDERABLY with the epic fantasy/steampunk dealie I worked on for NaNo. I kinda get it now (though I couldn't explain steampunk other than "um...you seen Wild Wild West? It's like that. Only not lame"). 

I really enjoyed this little twist on the Jekyll and Hyde story, but I didn't fall in love with it. Finley is a girl with a mad case of puberty *ok, maybe not* who has bounced from place to place because of her "affliction." She's pretty badass, but she's also afraid of herself and afraid of what she could do to others in her alternate state. When Griff and Sam find her, she's just beaten the holy bejeezus out of the jerkhole she worked for because he was getting a bit too fresh. If only we all had that power...

I actually enjoyed the subplot with Sam a little more, even though some parts were kinda obvious (like his relationship with a stranger he meets). 

At any rate, Kady Cross does a great job with bringing the steampunk elements into the story. From Emily's workshop to Sam's bionic body parts to the velocycles the group uses to zip through London's crowded streets, Cross brings to life this imaginative world where technology is just as important as character and plot, and it sometimes pushes the plot. 

But for me, even with this hugely rich world and these intriguing characters (Sam's self-loathing is particularly...well, sad), I had some trouble connecting with the story. Maybe it's because this is the first steampunk I've read and I was getting a feel for the world, but something...just kept me from really engaging with the characters, even Jasper, who is certainly crush-worthy. I think it's because I didn't have much of a stake with them. Griff's tale is difficult to grasp at certain points. There's this whole thing with the ether and whatnot that was sometimes more confusing than cool (even though it was still cool, don't get me wrong). 

I would still recommend this book, especially if you've already had experience with steampunk. The story's good, the characters are better, and the tech is just plain cool.


Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous cover. Sounds like a great book too!

lexcade said...

It is. I lost sleep reading this one, lol. I loooove her cover, too. OMG. I want that dress!

Jack LaBloom said...

I love the cover, but the woman in the picture appears to be much older than sixteen. Just looking at the cover would make me think it's a romance novel.

Landra said...

Looked at this one andthought about reading. I may give it a shot. I love steampunk.