Friday, June 24, 2011

The Girl in the Steel Corset

I haven't read very much steampunk, but I was intrigued by the title and attracted by the cover of The Girl in the Steel Corset, a young adult novel by Kady Cross, the first in her Steampunk Chronicles. My sister-in-law got a signed hardcover copy for me when she went to the book expo in New York City.

The story takes place in Victorian England, though a slightly different England than we are accustomed to, with machines and magic and the regular steampunk contraptions that are similar to modern technology but powered differently. Finley is a ladies maid, a 16-year-old girl with an extremely dangerous dark side, literally. When she is angry or threatened, it comes out as a completely different personality with supernatural strength and senses. She's the female Jekyll and Hyde.

Then there are Griffin, Sam, and Emily, a group of friends with their own extraordinary abilities, trying to discover the identity of The Machinist, a criminal who is creating machines that might have the potential to think for themselves. Sam's already been in the way of one of these machines, and now he's not fully human himself since Emily had to fuse him back together with metal. When Finley comes into their lives, the group isn't sure what to do with her. But one thing's for sure: sooner or later, someone's going to get hurt.

I enjoyed the setting and the characters of this novel, though at times I wished the narrator would stop switching viewpoints and let me stay in one character's head. That's just personal preference. It's very common to jump heads in fantasy and science fiction; it's less common in young adult but still happens. I think it was harder, then, for me to identify with the heroine since half the story didn't immediately revolve around her. However, I did like her, particularly as her character changed and evolved.

There wasn't as much romance as I had hoped for, though there are several love triangles, which are interesting. I think the author must be saving Finley's romance for later books in the Chronicles. The set-up is in this book, but not much comes of it.

Although there was nothing inappropriate in the story, I didn't really feel like I was reading young adult fiction. All the characters felt older. Maybe that's due to the setting in the late 1900's. I thought of the characters as older than teenagers the entire time I read the book. But other than that, this is a great young adult book, sure to be enjoyed particularly by the female steampunk audience.

Three stars for an enjoyable read.

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to read it! I was hoping this title would be good! Thanks for the great review!


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