The Girl in the Steel Corset-by Kady Cross(4.5 out of 5)

OK, let me say right off the bat- I usually can read a book this size in a day or two. This book took me a week. Why?

Several things right from the start. First off, steampunk is a new genre for me. I had to get used to the style of the genre, the writing style, and the time period. That actually didn’t take long. What did take me a little more getting used to? The jumping around on the telling of the story- it wasn’t just from Finley Jayne’s point of view. Pretty much all of the characters took a turn telling the story. So that switching back and forth, took some getting used to. The descriptiveness in parts of the story- in particular, the colors of the outfits and a lot of description involving the hair, eye color, and build of the characters, was not so important to the plot development or the characters, as you would think for the amount of time spent on them. I mean- it’s different if they’re describing the steel corset Emily makes for Finley- that’s a huge part of many action scenes later in the book. It’s also mentioned in the title of the book itself. Some of the secondary characteristics, though- the book didn’t suffer from it much, but those readers, who like myself, dig quick action with their young adult books, it bogged the book down for me. What did I like?

Pretty much everything else. It’s a genre that I am not at all familiar with, but am intrigued by, and want to read more of those books, posthaste. The time period, the setting, the fascination with machines and what they can do, the dress sense, the gritty reality of a dark city – what’s not to love?

Finley Jayne is introduced to us when she fights off a young man who’s trying to take advantage of her. This comes back to us later in the story(in fact, it was quite a while later, so much that I had forgotten about the ruffian in the meantime) when he is murdered. She runs into Griffin, a duke who she feels a strange connection with immediately. He offers her a place to stay, and she ends up feeling at home for the first time in a long time(despite the fact that some of his merry band of cohorts aren’t happy about it, namely Sam, who’s like a brother to Griffin(and has quite a tortured story himself), and Griffin’s Aunt Cordelia). Emily, a tiny wisp of a girl who has the Midas touch with machines, inventions, velocycles, and other ingenious things, strikes up a tentative friendship with Finley which ends up with the girls being close friends/sister-like. Jasper Renn, a mysterious cowboy who is over from the States(and whose story isn’t even solved until the last pages, and even then- not so much that you can’t spin a further story from it, which I believe Kady Cross has done in her 2nd book in this series) also befriends Finley and comes to her rescue several times. The jack of all trades in this story is Jack Dandy, a dastardy outlaw and the dark villainous sort in this story, who has a soft spot(and possibly more) for Finley. Of course, Griffin and he are not friends, and don’t bother to hide their disdain for each other. That, of course, sets up a quasi-triangle. Things begin to go wrong in the house and outside of the house, affecting the group. Sam, who really cannot stand Finley, confides in his friend at the bar, about his wanting to get Finley away from the group and the house, as he believes all the mishaps and bad happenings, began when Griffin took her in. Sam decides Finley is the switch that began this downward slide, and he’s going to flip that switch.There’s a huge battle between Sam, who’s half man, half machine(that’s a story you have to read to believe!) and Finley, who’s half woman, half machine herself(also another part of the story I cannot begin to tell, you have to read it.), and Finley emerges the reluctant victor, almost killing Sam in the process. Emily saves his life, and in her guilt, Finley leaves the compound and goes to stay with Jack Dandy. Griffin is beyond upset, he’s also jealous- so that sets up a nice little triangle here. Emily lets Sam have it, and he realizes that his friend Leonardo at the bar- is really the Machinist, an evil mastermind who has been responsible for many deaths, thefts, and general wrongdoings(the Machinist is also responsible for Sam almost being killed, which led to Emily and Griffin saving his life by making him half man, half machine. As I said, I can’t even begin to tell that story. Kady Cross is remarkable with how she ties it all together). Griffin goes to get Finley out of Jack’s house, and she goes, and they band together and take off after the Machinist. In doing so, they also discover that his next evil plan is to build a machine model of Queen Victoria, and put it in the place of the real Queen, in an attempt to take over England. It’s really quite the unbelievable story. I cannot stress enough how well Kady Cross tied this all together, and how it really picked up toward the end, after all is revealed. There are a couple of last minute surprises, but they really go a long way toward setting up the next book.

I think Finley Jayne is such a refreshing, kickass character. Griffin is dashing, smart, trying to do the right thing and save not only his friends but the whole of London who may be in danger, and adorably jealous. Emily is really a quiet brainchild blessed with the ability to heal and build machines and a quiet strength of character. I truly believe that if she were not in the book, there would be no glue. The other characters are quiet unabashed in their in-your-face emotional styles, and she is the calm in this hurricane. Jasper Renn is a quirky, likable character with a mysterious past- how’d he get to London, why’s he so fast, what’s his story? Jack Dandy- love him or hate him? Sam- love him or hate him? Will Jasper end up with Emily, who he has secret feelings for? Will Sam also admit his feelings for Emily? Will she tell them to buzz off so she can build another rogue automaton?  So many characters, so many dimensions, so much character love. I love these characters. So no matter how nit-picky I get over the little things that bugged me(mentioned earlier), I love this book, and I am going to read all of her other books. I like her easy-flowing writing style, and I love the time period, 1800’s England. I like that there is no easy way out of any situations the characters get themselves into, and I like the honest emotions- whether it’s jealousy, sheer minded determination to conquer the problems, the battle of good vs. evil. It never ends, and you don’t want it to.

I would say if you like a young adult book with some strong characters, romantic notions, 1800 historical time period fashions and lifestyle, and strong background for all characters, this is a good place to start. It’s fantastic.

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~ by generationgbooks on July 6, 2012.

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