In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one except the "thing" inside her.This book was pushed as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets teen X-Men. Having seen neither of those movies, I can’t really say whether that’s true or not. All I know is that this book is ridiculously awesome. I’ve never read any Steampunk before, but if “The Girl in the Steel Corset” is at all representative of the genre, I think I’ve found a new obsession.
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.
I really am so in love with Steampunk as of now. According to the wonderful world of Dictionary.com Steampunk is “a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.” For this book that means that it takes place in Victorian England and there are automatons (robots) all over the place and ridiculously awesome things like portable, wireless telegraph machines (it’s like Victorian text messaging!). And people wear funky clothes like corsets and knee high boots perfect for kicking the crap out of people. Plus the main characters have these super awesome powers like super-speed and super-strength and super-healing (I guess that’s where the X-Men part comes in). I really can’t even express how much I adored the setting of this book. I so just want to magically transport there or something.
But enough gushing about the Steampunk aspect. I really liked the writing style of the book. As much as I love artistic and literary writing, there’s something to be said for unobtrusive writing that doesn’t draw undue attention to itself. Kady Cross is a straight-up awesome storyteller, and I think it takes talent to use a writing style that takes a backseat to the plot and characters. One of the things I was worried about before starting this book was that the writing would be over the top. But as soon as I started reading, I was sucked into the world Cross created, and the writing never did anything to make me want to pull out.
The characters in the book were extremely likeable. At first I wasn’t sure if I would like Finley, the main character, because of the whole Jekyll-Hyde split personality thing she has going on. But she gets that somewhat under control early on, so it was never an issue for me. I did think it was a little ridiculous that there were TWO love triangles going on (Griffin-Finley-Jack and Sam-Emily-Jasper), but since they were so subtle and not the point of the plot, I could overlook them fairly easily. I really liked that the romances, especially the Griffin-Finley one, progress slowly. I hate feeling at the end of a first book in a series that all the romance has been resolved. So I adored that The Girl in the Steel Corset doesn’t rush the romances--it makes me all the more excited for the next book to see how the relationships evolve.
Overall, this is a fantastic introduction to the Steampunk genre. Plus it’s got all sorts of exciting fight scenes but still manages to spend enough time evolving characters and friendships. I really, really liked this book and definitely recommend it to everyone.