Title: “The Girl in the Steel Corset”
Author: Kady Cross
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre(s): Steampunk, young adult, adventure, some romance
Part of a Series: Yes, 1st book
Why I read it: Picked it up at a convention
Summary: Set in the steampunk world of Victorian England, Finley Jayne tries to fit in. The problem is she can’t. She possesses super strength and super speed. But with these powers comes a dark side which scares yet fascinates Finley. And then she meets Lord Griffin King. He is not normal either. He takes her in and introduces her to his collection of other abnormal people. They are pulled into a mystery involving missing mechanical pieces, a missing wax figure and a plot against the throne. As Finley learns to master the dark side of her being, will she finally find a place to belong?
Review: This was my first foray into the world of steampunk and it wasn’t necessarily the genre’s best foot forward.
Finley as a protagonist isn’t too bad but she’s a bit bland. Even with the whole “other nature” aspect. She does reach interesting status at one point when her dark side takes over for a night but it doesn’t last longer than that scene. Her powers, even if she doesn’t understand them, seem to be a deus ex machina. The author tries to make them a hindrance but it doesn’t seem to work.
Griffin is bland as well. Bland seems to be the word of the review. He’s a good guy and that’s about it. He takes in those who are different, creating a team of them. Insert obligatory X-Men joke here. He does have flare ups of jealousy when Finlay befriends the shady Jack Dandy and it almost makes him interesting. Almost.
Ms. Cross needs to sharpen her description skills. For example, she always described secondary character Emily’s hair as “ropey.” I was unsure what “ropey” meant. And Ms. Cross is very fond of the color “plum.” Everyone pretty much wears it and it gets repetitive. Her writing also comes across more as Miss Cross is reporting what’s happening rather than immersing the reader in her plot. Her action scenes are adequate, though they need a little more love. For example, there’s a chapter with a big fight scene. But more paragraphs were devoted to a growing love triangle than the battle so it flew by rather than letting the reader be immersed in it.
As for the plot, it seemed like a lot of buildup for little payoff. When I saw the book was part of a series, I though the resolution would be in another book. But no, the other book appears to deal with something that is set up at the end of this book—a separate situation. So in my opinion, the ending was rushed too much. And the plot will seem really familiar to anyone who ever watched “The Great Mouse Detective.”
Bottom line: A book which needed a little more work.
What makes you try a new genre?