Monday, 6 June 2011

Review: The Girl In The Steel Corset by Kady Cross

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.

This book was a little bit hit and miss for me. Some of the things were personal preferences, and others were just problems in general. However despite that, I really enjoyed bits of the book.

I love the premise – it was a great idea, and the Steampunk aspect was genius. The clothes, the machines, the whole atmosphere was great. There were a few things that felt a bit unrealistic but I will get to those in a bit.

I loved Finley, I could identify with her and I liked her, apart from when she was being really whiny. I liked that she was our way in to this new secret family as it made the explanations a lot easier to take as they were given to her. I also loved the premise of rich teenage duke saving the country. I would have preffered him to be a bit older, because whilst the revenge was a great reason for him to be doing all this stuff, he still just seemed a little young. However over all I loved him and he made me swoon – always a good start with a boy.

Jack, ah Jack. I have a soft spot for bad boys and I have to say I particularly loved this one. He reminded me a lot of Damon from the Vampire Diaries (never a bad thing) but I will admit that I wasn’t fussed on the love triangle aspect – I’ll get to that later on.
Emily and Jasper both took me a while to get into. I’m not sure what it was but I just didn’t warm to them straight away, so it was a slow build with them.

There was so much recommending this book to me, but there were some problems that just made it fall a bit short.
For example, personal preference, I’m not sure if this is a regular feature in Steampunk books, because I haven’t read loads in this genre, but I really disliked the short ‘knickers’ that Finley seemed to favour. I’m a purist, and I love historical fiction, and whilst I love most of the changes that comes in Steampunk, this one seemed a little too far. It felt too modern and like the whole Victorian era was just a backdrop, not a time period that needed to be considered in clothes or speech.

I really struggled with how modern the dialogue was. Again, I understand this is a different branch of Victorian esq time, but I still feel that some of it should remain untainted – and one of those things for me is the speech. It was too modern, too informal to really ring true.

There were just too many inconsistencies - for example Finley races around in short pants, spends time chaperoned with men, and then gets all 'oh it's improper' when Griffin shows her his shoulder. Right then...

I struggled with some aspects of the writing as well. The well worn mantra of ‘show not tell’ seemed to be virtually forgotten at times. I wanted to scream at the number of times Emily’s hair was described as ‘ropey’ literally every time she was on the page, and again at the number of times villain or villainous was used. They were little things that should have been picked up on in editing and hadn’t been – and there is nothing worse for me than things that should have been caught in the editing process.

I disliked Sam completely. He was such a toss pot that even when he’d apologised to everyone I still didn’t like him. Because we hadn’t seen the past friendship between him, Emily and Griffin there was no comparison, he was just a jerk, and I couldn’t understand why they were just putting up with it.

I also disliked the love triangle. I love Jack, in fact he was one of my favourite characters in the whole book – something about a weakness for bad boys – but whilst his attraction to Finley was fine, her constant ‘oh but he’s a bad boy and I shouldn’t like him, and I will only like him if it turns out he didn’t do all those naughty things’ really peeved me. Don’t try to change the bad boy! It’s part of his charm, and just wanting to change him indicated it was infatuation and nothing more with him. I think it just felt like the love triangle was thrown in there because there has to be a love triangle in everything now. And it’s really not necessary!

However Finely and Griffin should be getting it on – all the time. I love that romance and spark. It seemed genuine, it was really well written, and I loved the two of them together. Yes sure, we need Griffin to realize that he liked her and the jealousy was a good vehicle for that, but I really just wanted the two of them to get more time together without all of that with Jack.

One of the biggest let downs however, was that I could see the plot twist coming pretty much from the start of the book. Considering they’re all supposed to be geniuses of some description, it took them an awfully long time to work it all out, whereas I had it worked out pretty much from when Sam met Leon. And I don’t like working it out that quickly! I love the intrigue and mystery and being led on and fed clues as the author wants to dish them out. It just made me feel a bit bored because there weren’t any big surprises.

However, please don’t take my whinging as a sign that the book is bad or that I didn’t enjoy it. I loved it, it was simply that I loved it so much that the downsides were that bit more disappointing, because I wanted it to be perfect.
I loved the world, I loved the premise, and for the most part the characters. I’m presuming based on that ending that there will be a sequel, and I cannot wait for that either. There was something about this book that just made me squee inside. That made me race to get to lunch at work so I could find out what was going to happen next, and stay up far too late to finish it. I waited for this book for months and it was definitely worth it – I’m sad about those things I’ve pointed out, but otherwise I loved it and highly recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy and steampunk, or is looking for a good book to get into the genre.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you expressed what you didn't like so well - I plan on reading this soon and you'll have me on guard not to have my expectations set too high :)