Title: The Girl in the Steel Corset
Author: Kady Cross
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
The Girl in the Steel Corset was my first foray into the world of steampunk. I haven’t the slightest idea if it’s a good representation of the genre or not, so bear that in mind.
I enjoyed Ms. Cross’s world. I’ve been anxious to explore steampunk because the idea of a world in which the industrial revolution was fueled by steam, rather than coal fascinates me. I love the clothes, the culture, the technology…did I mention the clothes?
I very much enjoyed Finley. Coming on the heels of the last book I read where I really couldn’t tolerate the heroine by the end, I especially enjoyed Finley. Ms. Cross struck a perfect balance between Finley's fascination and fear of her darker self without going overboard in either direction.
All of Ms. Cross’s characters were enjoyable, although I never warmed to Cordelia. I know Griffin was able to appreciate the fact that his aunt only had his best interests at heart, but I’ve never warmed to the idea that acting out of concern for others gives one license to be horrible without recompense.
Speaking of Griffin, he ended up being a very capable, natural leader and romantic interest for Finley. While I enjoyed Jack and Finley's potential more than Griffin and Finley, I found both matches believable.
The Girl In The Steel Corset seemed to take a lot of cues from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in that there’s an element of the fantastic in both the characters abilities as well as the technology. Finley was a well-balanced version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, capable of amazing strength and fighting ability, Emily was able to talk to machines, Sam was inordinately strong and half automaton, Jasper had superspeed and Griffin was able to contact and bend the Aether to his whim. Cordelia was also a particularly skilled telepath - a talent that she used rather brazenly considering her class.
As far as technology was concerned, I found myself thinking “oh, that’s convenient” more than I would have liked. Personal telegraph devices, – basically cellphones – tiny ear pieces that amplify sound, and hand torches run by “power cells” made things just a little bit too easy for my taste. I would have either liked to learn more about how those things worked – many with the help of the amazing Organites that enhanced the characters special talents – or preferred the author to cut down on the number of ways she “modernized” the world.
Although, I had no problem with the velocycles. Must be my love of all things fast.
Getting used to the etiquette of Victorian England was a challenge at times because I wanted the characters to be a little harder, a little dirtier and a little more realistic. The good guys are so good, so noble and I prefer my characters to operate in the grey.
I supposed that’s why I enjoyed Jack Dandy so much.
I would have also liked the stakes to be a bit higher. I finished the book thinking that it read a bit young, although that might be the point. I don’t know what reading level it is.
All in all, The Girl in the Steel Corset passes my most important test in that I enjoyed it and am intrigued enough to read another of Ms. Cross’s novels – especially if she returns to these characters and this world.