Monday, 6 June 2011

Book Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

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.    
The Girl in The Steel Corset is a novel that I spent the past few months highly anticipating! Leading up to its release I read dozens of reviews online, the majority of which gave The Girl in The Steel Corset raving reviews. Needless to say, as soon as it arrived in the mail, I tore open the box and immersed myself into the life of Finley Jane and the steampunk world which Kady Cross has created!

For those unfamiliar with steampunk, it is a literary and art movement which focuses on re-imagining what Victorian England would have been like if they had been given access to various aspects of technology that we have today.As a steampunk enthusiast, there were many things that I loved about this book: the seamless amalgamation of the Victorian period with aspects of modern technology, the focus on steampunk fashion, and the slew of creative and unique characters. Indeed, despite his position as a rather shady individual, the character of Jack Dandy quickly stole my heart over everyone else!

One of my favourite things about steampunk novels, however, is there tendency to bring to life both historical and fictional characters from the Victorian period, and project them into a different scenario or plot line. The Girl in the Steel Corset was no exception to this custom, and I was happy to discover references to such people as Darwin, Jack the Ripper, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Jekyll and Hyde!

In the acknowledgements to the book, Kady Cross noted that in writing The Girl in the Steel Corset, she hoped to make a cross between The League of Extraordinary Gentleman and X-men. Being familiar with both of these graphic novels I would have to say that Ms. Cross definitely succeeded! I loved the idea of a group of misfits who fight crime and are given mysterious powers through a mutation in their cell structure! I'm excited to find out in the next few novels if there are any more characters that will emerge with hidden powers!

Unfortunately, while I genuinely enjoyed The Girl in the Steel Corset, I was not without my criticisms. One of the main things that bothered me about this novel was how quickly it seemed that Griffin was able to help Finley gain control of her dual personality. It seems to me that a condition such as hers would require much more time to discover a solution then what is described in the book. I also found the novel a little predictable at times. I managed to unravel The Machinist's identity and plans within a few short chapters, which kind of took a bit of the anticipation and excitement out of the novel.I suppose that the number of good reviews I read about this book gave me very high expectations which weren't exactly met for me. Nevertheless, The Girl in the Steel Corset was a fun book to read, and I will definitely be sticking around with this series to find out what happens next!

Rating: 4 Stars


Lea said...

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for the review, I have had my eyes on this book, and while I have yet to read a Steampunk-themed book, I am really interested in and attracted to such an interesting concept. I've always loved the Victorian period, so this sounds right up my alley ;) I will have to check this one out!

~Lea @ LC's Adventures in Libraryland

Anti-Drug Reads said...

This doesn't look like it's for me. But great review! Don't be a stranger; stop by my blog and say hi! I'm not sure if we're fellow followers, but I follow you!

Looking forward to hearing back from you,
Cory @ Anti-Drug Reads

Jenny said...

I've heard such good things about this it's nice to hear it's not perfect as I was pretty sure it probably wasn't. I'll still be reading it. Wow! I'm not making sense. I just mean, thanks for the honesty.

kaye (paper reader) said...

I think this review is probably the one I relate with most as it seems like a book that I could read but fall head over heels for. And, Jenny, I understand what you mean! I'm waiting for my library to get a copy. Hopefully soon(ish)!

Neri said...

Loved your review! Thanks for the great explanation of the Steampunk Genre. This book does sound really interesting, it's already in my tbr list. Sometimes I build my expectations to high based on other peoples perspective and then end up somewhat disappointed in the book. :(

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