Sixteen year old Finley Jayne isn’t like most girls. Most girls don’t attract trouble like Finley does. Most girls don’t have superhuman strength. Most girls don’t have a monster living inside them. Finding herself homeless and jobless after an altercation with her employer’s Dandy of a son, Finley literally runs right into the path of the one person best equipped to help her with her unique problem, Griffin King, the Duke of Greythorne. Griffin, a young man of many secrets himself, recognizes Finley’s dangerous abnormalities, and thinking he can help her he takes her under his wing, much to the chagrin of his cautious friends and family.
When Griffin stumbles across Finley Jayne, he is deep in the middle of an investigation of the villainous and elusive “Machinist” a shadowy figure who has been plaguing London with a series of seemingly random automaton attacks. As they begin to piece together the clues of The Machinist’s endgame and identity, Finley begins to think she has found a place and purpose with Griffin and his friends. However, as the story unfolds she begins to wonder about the truth behind the darkness that lives inside her and if she’ll learn to control it before it overtakes her completely.
In “The Girl in the Steel Corset,” Kady Cross has created a vivid and technologically complex, Steampunk world combining machinery and the supernatural, where automatons work alongside humans, where startling discoveries are being made about the very fabric of the world and where a mysterious force called the Aether flows in and through all things.
I loved Cross’s characters. The brave, analytical, easy-going Griffin. The intelligent, innovative, inherently sweet Emily. The stubborn, angry, yet fiercely loyal Sam. The enigmatic, friendly American cowboy, Jasper. And then there’s Finley. Going into the book, I knew that Finley is a character with a marked duality. Although I wished the differences in her natures could have been slightly more polarized to make events later in the story seem more prominent, you really do get a good sense of who she is as a character, even when she herself, doesn’t. Finley is a girl who tries to do the right thing, who is terrified that she may be becoming a monster. She is courageous and will do whatever possible to protect those she cares about, she values friendship because it is rare, and she desperately just wants to feel like she belongs. If I had any complaints about any character it would be Jack Dandy. I thought he was kept too minor a character and not developed completely enough. I would have liked to see more of him in this story and I can’t wait to learn more about his mysterious past in subsequent books.
While I loved the world and the characters, the story itself, was disappointing to me. Cross started off with some truly well-developed elements, but the overarching mystery of the story felt overly juvenile. Yes, I am aware of the genre. But I’ve read YA books where the plot line is a twisty-turny, keep-you-guessing-until-the-final-climactic-moments kind of mystery. Instead, the mystery behind The Machinist’s purpose was incredibly predictable so early on, and was taken almost in its entirety from one of my most favorite children’s movies. No, I’m not going to tell you what movie. It’d spoil the book. Read it and figure it out for yourself.
Verdict? “The Girl in the Steel Corset,” was a fun, entertaining story, and despite my disappointment is worth a read.
Author: Kady Cross
Title: The Girl in the Steel Corset
Series: Steampunk Chronicles (Book #1)
Published: May 24th 2011 by Harlequin Teen
Format: Hardcover, 473 pages