The Girl in the Steel Corset (The Steampunk Chronicles, #1)
by Kady Cross
Reading Grade: Young Adult
Publication Date: May 24, 2011
Source: Hardcover purchase
Age Rating: 14+
In 1897 England, 16-year-old Finley Jayne is convinced she's a freak. 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 . . . that she's one of "them."
I finally read The Girl in the Steel Corset after having it on my shelf for almost a full year! I'd been wanting to read it, but for some stupid reason (too many other books tbr) I waited until now to do it. How's that for procrastination?
- Plot: Finley Jayne is a servant in a big manor and has to fend off an unwelcome advance by a young, rakish lord, which she does easily because she has this “Mr. Hyde” alternate ego that takes over when she's in danger. She's very strong in that state. After escaping, she literally crashes into Griffin King, Duke of Greythorne's carriage and he decides to take her into his home because he recognizes that she's unusual, like how he and his merry band of misfit friends all are. Griffin becomes like a “Professor X” to all his friends and they have to stop a madman called The Machinist from his evil ploy against Queen Victoria.
- Characters: Finley has a ton of potential to be a really intriguing, if not fascinating character, but she falls totally flat. She was born with a split personality, her normal self and her bad self. The bad side scares her and she can't control it at first. But, even in that state, she's so uninteresting. She's too cardboard. Griffin is just as cardboard and uninteresting. All I can think to say is that both of them felt underdeveloped, and in fact, this applies to all the characters. Some characters feel out of place, like Jasper the American cowboy. His presence was so insignificant, it felt like he could have easily not been in it at all and it wouldn't have mattered. Jack Dandy seemed like an insert just to create a love triangle between himself, Finley and Griffin. What made Dandy so dangerous was never illustrated or specified, but he supposedly was a super bad boy. Why not show us how? And, why did he fake a Cockney accent?
- Writing: The writing is fine, but my gripes with it are that it switches from limited 3rd person POV to head-hopping 3rd person POV from time to time. Thankfully, it doesn't happen very often. Also, I don't like the dialogue very much because it seems too modern. It's set in the year 1897 and they occasionally used modern slang. Really off-putting.
- Story: For the most part, I like the steampunk elements used because they are so plentiful. I feel like most steampunk I read is too scant on the actual technology that makes it steampunk. Although, some gadgets and do-dads seem pointless. I'd rather be informed on just the things that matter to the plot. The clothes everyone wears is just modern steampunk attire, not actual Victorian-era attire, which feels odd. I don't understand Emily's “ropey” hair. What does that mean? Also, it may as well have been set in 2012 because they have all of our technology in steampunk form. Why bother to set it in 1897, then?
- Overall Quality: The story is meant to be a pairing of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with X-Men, but it comes off a bit too superficial and shallow, and I had a hard time feeling satisfied while reading it. It is a good story and keeps you turning the pages, though. The Organites are very interesting insofar as what they do, and the back-story on Griffin and Finley's parents adds layers of dimensionality. So, not all is lost, but I would have liked it better with multi-dimensional characters, less meaningless descriptions of the style of the clothes (style over substance problem), and more dramatic tension between the characters. I had such high hopes that this book would be amazing, but it fell so short of them. What a bummer....
- Favorite Moment: When Sam (Griffin's best friend who is half-man, half-machine), tries to kill Finley and Finley nearly dies, but her 'Hyde' ego kicks into gear at the last second, and she nearly kills him, instead. A kick-butt, dramatic scene—I just wish there were more like it.
- My Score: 3 stars out of 5.