"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

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Summary: A steampunk novel about a young Victorian girl with extraordinary powers.

Finley Jayne is working as a housemaid in a house in London when she is attacked by the son of the master of the house.  Instead of submitting, a voice inside Finley encourages her to fight back. This excites the young lord, but Finley soon realizes she is fighting for more than her virtue; she is fighting for her life. But that voice inside her takes over, helps Finley win the fight and ends with the lord crumpled and bleeding against a wall. Finley escapes into the night and runs straight into Lord Griffin King. Literally, she runs into his velocycle.

Since this is a steampunk novel, Griffin uses his wrist telegraph to communicate that he's bringing Finley home to his mansion. Finley joins Griff's motley crew of associates, Sam, who's part automaton; Emily, an Irish lass who's a mechanical genius, American cowboy Jasper Finn and Griffin himself, who can command the power of the Aether.

If this sounds a bit like that terrible Sean Connery movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you are not alone. In the  acknowledgments, the author thanks her editor for letting her write The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets X-men teens. This is absolutely accurate, but did not make for an original book, even though this book is often recommended as a classic YA steampunk fiction. It has a teen heroine torn between two men, one who admires her dark side, and one who makes her aspire to be more, even as she is conscious of the difference in their status. Lots of fighting, lots of new technology, but it just felt stale to me. I wish I could have recommended it more. 

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