Monday, July 30, 2012

Numbers #2: The Chaos

The Chaos is a YA thriller/sci-fi novel, and the second in the Numbers trilogy, by Rachel Ward.

If you haven’t read Numbers yet, you should avoid this review. Instead, read my review of Numbers here.

If you HAVE read Numbers, feel free to continue to read…

The first numbers Adam saw were his mother’s.

That’s how he knew she was going to die.

He inherited her curse, her ability to see the date a person will die when you look into their eyes.

Only he got an added bonus. He not only sees when they will die, he feels it too.

So when, at fifteen, he finds himself in London with his Nan – still mourning his mom’s death – he’s horrified to see the same number popping up on multiple people, New Year’s Day 2027. Just a few months away.

What could happen on New Year’s to cause so many deaths in one place?

Can he warn them? Or is it better to keep it a secret, like his mother always advised?

When I read Numbers earlier this year, I was surprised by how down-to-earth and urban it was – and that tone is continued here. Even though we’re skipping quite a few years and becoming led by Jem’s son, that continuity is nice. It helped to make Numbers unique.

The Chaos is jarring, stark. Adam’s power is chilling – it isolates him. And despite the fact that I sometimes got irritated with his angry outbursts (since he grew up with love, unlike his mother), I could see how his ability influenced him.

Rachel Ward infuses the sad reality of an abusive domestic life (as we’re introduced to Sarah, the other main character in The Chaos) with suspenseful sci-fi – including the realization that Sarah’s been having nightmares about Adam, and the ever-spooky amount of January 2027 deaths.

The Chaos is painful, sensitive, effective and shocking – an impressive follow-up to Numbers. It’s very character driven and needs a mature, older teen audience – in my opinion. It’s so involving, insanely fast-paced, and emotionally raw that I whipped through it in one evening.

I was glued, and for good reason. The climatic conclusion hits the right notes, and sets us up for a third and final novel, Infinity, which I will be diving into next.

Very good.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Twice Upon a Time: Rapunzel, The One With All the Hair

Twice Upon a Time: Rapunzel, The One With All the Hair is a middlegrade humorous fairy tale retelling by Wendy Mass.

What started off as a pretty okay day for Rapunzel turned into a totally sucky one. Suddenly she’s stolen by a witch, flung into a high tower (possibly with a heavy breathing ghost as a roommate), and doesn’t even know why her hair won’t stop growing!

Prince Benjamin, in the meantime, is finally getting a chance to do something. His mother never wants him out of her sight, but his father and troublesome cousin might be giving him the chance to get outside the castle for once – but will it just lead him to a troll?

Rapunzel and Prince Ben are trapped in different ways – is there a chance they could help each other?

But first they’ll have to actually MEET…

After the rather horrific reading experience I had with The Last Princess, I was glad to delve into something as lighthearted as Rapunzel. It’s goofy, silly, good-natured tone helped a lot!

I only wish that as an older reader I could really sink in and enjoy the fun like a younger reader could, but for me it didn’t translate age-difference-wise all that well. The narrative voice of Rapunzel and Prince Benjamin is lively but written in such a haphazard, erratic way that I had a difficult time reading it at times, making it a tad tedious.

But when it comes to the audience it’s intended for – I would say thirteen and under – I think Rapunzel’s great! It’s a new twist on an old story, and though the plot isn’t real clear and the characters are a little all over the place, it has a modern-kid sensibility that I believe will be enjoyed by many younger readers.

I will be giving Wendy Mass’ Twice Upon a Time twists on Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast a chance in the coming months as well, and maybe I’ll find myself more charmed as an older reader – we’ll see. In the meantime, I’d suggest keeping Rapunzel among the elementary crowd. They’ll be delighted!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Last Princess

The Last Princess is a YA futuristic dystopia by Galaxy Craze.

After the Seventeen Days, days that wreaked havoc on the earth – from earthquakes to floods to much more – nothing has been the same. England is cut off from the rest of the world. It’s not even clear if there is a “rest of the world” anymore.

Things have gotten bad. Sun barely shines, and chunks of it fall to the ground. Food is scarce and people are starving – groups of criminals now called Roamers hunt the woods for human prey… It’s a dark place.

Eliza has been sheltered from some of it, being that she is a princess with guards. But when a violent revolutionist, one that has already hurt their family by causing her mother’s death, sets his sights on becoming the new king – the royal family is attacked.

Sixteen-year-old Princess Eliza escapes the bloody massacre at Buckingham Palace – barely. She has nothing.

Nothing but a deep-set desire to kill the man who has destroyed her family. But the steps she has to take to get close enough to him to do so may end her life before she gets the chance…

Oh dear. I really hate writing negative reviews. Really. As I’ve said before, a lot of work and care goes into making every book – and I respect that. Also, every book will find an audience, small or big, that will love it. So, take this review with the realization that this is just ONE bibliophiles opinion, and that you shouldn’t assume you’d feel the same.

Okay, with that warning out of the way… I did not like The Last Princess at all.

It’s sad when a cool cover and an interesting premise don’t equal an awesome book – but that’s what happened here, in my opinion. The Last Princess certainly doesn’t take place in a pleasant world, especially with the cannibals (gag!), but the worst part for me was the forced, overly cliché riddled plot.

I was interested in what would happen as the book starts with a bit of a calm before the storm feel, but some comments I had seen on Goodreads did have me concerned about what might happen to animals in the book… and let me go ahead and warn you – if you’re an animal lover like me, I’d be really surprised if you like The Last Princess. At all.

When sudden terror reaches this futuristic Windsor family, there is a fast-paced air about it, but the graphic nature of its violence towards people, pets, and wild animals was not done in a way that felt at all tasteful. In fact, the entire novel felt melodramatic and illogical – like every bad thing that could happen in a revolution was being shoved in a short period of time. Dismembering, attempted rape, Gladiator-like fights to the death, insta-love, etc. It was as though the author was to trying to shock the readers, but in all the wrong ways.

Instead of being meaningful and heartbreaking, the killing, gore, and carnage was gratuitous and disrespectful in the way it seemed to be setting up the reader. Again, this is all my opinion only.

I had a hard time finishing The Last Princess, to be honest. I couldn’t find one redeeming quality. Yet, I know that out there somewhere are a bunch of readers who will love it – and I don’t fault them for that. We’re all different. In fact, I encourage you to read The Last Princess for yourself – with the readiness of the slaughter – to see what you think. Maybe you will be one that likes it!

I am just really, really not one of them…

Monday, July 23, 2012

Stolen

Stolen is a YA contemporary fiction novel by Lucy Christopher.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma was having an argument with her parents at the airport.

When she saw him she couldn’t help but think he was attractive – but too old for her.

But then he stepped up and paid for her drink. A drink that he drugs.

And then before she’s fully conscious again, she’s been stolen.

Gemma is in the middle of nowhere with a guy that wants her to love him.

This is her letter to him. Her story of a desperate fight for survival…

Okay, I was blown away by the lyrical elegance of Lucy Christopher’s Flyaway (which I’m pretty sure will make my Stand-Out Books of 2012 list, read my review here). This is definitely a different book.

Stolen is disturbing, striking, and an up-and-close personal view of an abduction. It, at times, is searing, riveting, and magnetic – especially in the moments of a tear-inducing wild camel (which I won’t give too many details about).

Yet, I felt that Stolen had a more detailed, detached convoluted narrative than I thought necessary – sometimes I had to skim my eyes over it, because it was just a little too many words for not enough reason. I love a poetic style, but Stolen wasn’t really coming across like that to me, except occasionally. Lucy Christopher clearly knows how to break your heart (the aforementioned camel), but she didn’t do it on everything… I didn’t feel that attached to the characters. By the end, I did care – just not as much as I could have. Does that make sense? I’m sure my fellow bibliophiles will know what I’m talking about, right?

There is an undeniable charge to the emotions in Stolen, though. It’s complicated and mixed up in a way that confused even my perception of how you feel about the captor. But, really, I wasn’t sure what to think. I wasn’t as impressed as I expected to be, but I also thought it was a decent book that will find a lot of fans!

So, check it out for yourself! It just didn’t do much for me…

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Boy on Cinnamon Street

The Boy on Cinnamon Street is a middlegrade contemporary fiction novel by Phoebe Stone.

Seventh grader Louise Terrace would much rather you call her Thumbelina. After all, she’s small enough at 4 foot 7.

And her name’s not the only thing she’s changed about herself. She’s quit gymnastics, which she used to be obsessed with. She’s got only two friends, but they’re the best friends ever.

And she has a secret admirer.

Small, but thrilling, notes start showing up. A pink chalk heart is drawn outside her apartment. And her friend Reni is convinced that it’s Benny, a cute pizza boy. But how come it’s not going anywhere? She has the hardest time trying to “run into him” or talk to him.

It seems like nothing in Louise’s life ever works out.

And deep down she’s still being held back by a moment two years ago… A time she still can’t remember. A time her life changed.

A time on Cinnamon Street…

I had a bit of a hard time getting into the disjointed narrative voice of Louise. But I did start to finally warm to the infectious, innocent excitement of being noticed and liked, and experiencing a first crush. Yet I still wasn’t fully head over heels for The Boy on Cinnamon Street.

Louise’s blocked memory is intriguing and poignant, but her lack of recognizing the obvious when it comes to her secret admirer frustrated me. So, I was kind of ping-ponging with my feelings about the main character, which always makes it difficult for me to fully invest.

But once the sad, heartbreaking revelation is made known, the depth is really brought to The Boy on Cinnamon Street. And with the Hollywood ending that can’t help but make you smile; I was undeniably touched with the sweet end, provided by a good-natured author that is promoting healing in the face of tragedy.

I can’t say that I loved it, but the ending certainly helped. Either way, it was a fast, nice read!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Crowfield Demon

The Crowfield Demon is a middlegrade/YA fantasy by Pat Walsh, and the sequel to The Crowfield Curse.

If you haven’t read The Crowfield Curse yet, check out my review of it this last Monday. I encourage you to avoid this review until you have read the first book.

You’ve been warned!

Continuing on…

Will spent the winter learning that there was a lot more to the world than he initially thought. There are hobs, fay, curses, angels, and demons. And while uncovering all of this, he unfortunately was noticed by the Dark King of the Unseelie Court, Comnath. Not in a good way, either.

So as the spring begins to arrive, Will knows to keep his eyes open. It’s any day now that he will be in peril again. But now he knows he has the Sight, the ability to see beyond the mortal world into the realms of Old Magic, and he has a friend and protector in the warrior fay Shadlock and the little, faithful hob, Brother Walter.

Yet, an unexpected threat emerges – Crowfield Abbey has begun to crumble, and in terrifyingly strange ways. The stone faces of the saints break away before anything else. When checking the chapel, many feel like they’re not alone, or they see a frightening being the size and shape of a man, but with a crow’s head. It’s not natural…

A heathen creature from a pagan past is, somehow, reemerging in the present and has its eyes set on destroying everything and everyone at the Abbey… including Will.

I thought The Crowfield Curse was exceptional, and I am happy to announce that, for me at least, The Crowfield Demon was as great, if not better!

We get a super creepy start with Robin, an increasingly odd and alarming boy Will’s age, which is only the beginning of a trail of chilling events that take place in this second book. There is such a dark, magical, ominous tone to The Crowfield Demon that is sucks you into its suspenseful, fast-paced plot before you know it!

This was a quick read for me, which I love. It’s even more eerie that The Crowfield Curse, with higher stakes and more danger. It’s an rousing thriller with great themes of loyalty and good vs. evil. I adore the characters, which are penned so well that they are three-dimensional without, it seems, trying too hard. Love it!!

The end seemed to hint to at least one more Crowfield book – I very much hope so! This is a series that can be read by any age and appreciated very much. So what are you waiting for?

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Crowfield Curse

The Crowfield Curse is a middlegrade/YA fantasy novel by Pat Walsh.

After losing his entire family to a fire that he inexplicably survived, Will has become a servant at Crowfield Abbey – where he receives food and board for his assisting the monks.

On an ordinary day of gathering firewood in the forest of the medieval village, he hears a cry for help – a cry of pain. But what he finds is a creature no larger than a cat – it’s a hobgoblin. He’s wounded, caught in a trap. Despite being alarmed at the fact that he’s never seen a being like it, and by the fact that it talks, Will helps the creature and takes it to Brother Snail – one of the only monks Will feels truly comfortable with.

It’s not long before Will realizes that the quiet life at the Abbey is surrounded by magic – and curses. The hob confesses knowledge of something buried deep in the snow, beyond the graveyard – something that had wings and shone with beauty. Something that has cursed the land.

Will finds himself thrust into the mystery as two shadowy guests arrive at the Abbey and the monks own cryptic behavior raise suspicion. Will is drawn into the dangerous pull of finding answers…

The Crowfield Curse is full of haunted woods, small talking creatures, spooky specters, cagey boarders, Old Magic, perilous curses, and a dead presence in the forest that sparks a firestorm of questions – exciting!

It wasn’t hard to be sucked in to this story. First off, I really liked Will. He’s sympathetic without being self-pitying. He’s nice, caring, and easy to root for. Also, the 14th century Abbey life is made to feel real – an unusual setting for what becomes a broad, intricate, thrilling fantasy novel full of fay.

I loved how, as I read The Crowfield Curse, I sensed the wintry cold atmosphere and felt like I was in the forest with Will and the hob as they searched for answers while feeling like they were being watched. There are some truly chilling moments! Not to mention, distressing moments, with animals, that reek of evil – all the better to enlighten the good – which are thankfully lessoned a little by Will’s loving attitude.

We have a great, final standoff involving multiple parties from human, to fay, to other beings with an excellent setup for a sequel – which there is, called The Crowfield Demon. I’ll be reviewing that one on Wednesday.

The Crowfield Curse was really gratifying. Terrific fantasy mixed with medieval time period detail. I recommend it!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Revived

Revived is a YA contemporary novel with a sci-fi twist by Cat Patrick.

Golly gee wilkers, I am becoming a HUGE fan of Cat Patrick’s! First she wrote Forgotten, which was remarkable! (Read my review of it here.) And now she’s wowing me with her second novel – I am officially impatient for her third book – and don’t even know what it’s about!

Here’s a little about what Revived is about:

Daisy doesn’t remember the first time she died. Though she recalls that drowning was awful, and she was always a little frightened of buses afterwards. But she was only four years old at the time, so it’s a bit of a fog.

But that was the say she was brought back to life – the first time – and inducted into a classified program testing a drug called Revive. She and other kids from the accident that died, whom the drug worked on, began a life of secrecy and science.

Now nearing sixteen-years-old, Daisy has died and been Revived five times. Each death means a new city, a new name, a new identity. She’s always held back on any real friendships because it’s all a lie, and she’s used to that. Life in the program is about pretending to be normal, blending in, and not being noticed much.

That’s all about to change.

After her fifth death, Daisy ends up in Omaha and meets Matt and Audrey McKean, siblings that connect with Daisy. For the first time, Daisy enjoys the camaraderie and laughs of having a good girlfriend, and with Matt there is a deep attraction that she’s never experienced.

For anything to come of it, though, she must no longer be an experiment.

But as she tries to release the program’s hold on her life, she begins to realize how much deeper – and darker – it goes…

Oh, wow! Cat Patrick has done it again!

Revived is very enigmatic, mysterious, and inviting, expertly compelling – drawing me in from the first page. Yet again we have a human, intimate story heightened by an intelligent, original twist with the experimental drug Revive.

This is a smart, suspenseful, romantic, fast-paced YA novel that can rival adult titles (most of them can, in my opinion), providing exceptional characterizations and a candid look at life issues, like death. In spite of many of the subjects dealt with being heavy ones, Revived never gets bogged down or too glum – instead it’s unpretentious, electrifying, evocative, sweet, and surprisingly uplifting.

Plus, there are some scary developments I did NOT see coming!

I cannot stress how touching, amazing, and awesome Revived was!

My bibliophile insanity implores you to pick up your copy NOW!

*I received a review copy of Revived from Hachette Book Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Drowned Cities

The Drowned Cities is a YA dystopian sci-fi novel, and the companion to Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi.

I was a fan of Ship Breaker, as you can see from my review here. However, there aren’t really any spoilers from that novel in The Drowned Cities, they just take place in the same universe. So you should be safe.

Here we meet war maggots in the Drowned Cities – refugee children that no one wants. Mahlia and Mouse have barely survived – constantly under suspicion after each death, as though they may have caused it. Their life is a hard one, but a kindhearted doctor keeps them alive – one of the very few that gives them a chance.

But when the opportunity to escape the Drowned Cities occurs, they take it. Violence is overtaking the Cities, and it seems that they might be able to find a semblance of safety – until they run across a wounded half-man, a bioengineered beast named Tool. He’s being hunted by soldiers – and sends Mahlia and Mouse into the line of fire.

When their new situation leads to a tragedy, Mahlia must make one of the most dangerous decisions of her life: go it alone and quite possibly be safe, or risk everything for the boy who once saved her life?

Alrighty, now before I delve too deeply into my opinions I want to be clear: a lot has been going on in my life currently. I’m fine, it’s not life or death - just a bit of an overhaul, but sometimes when stuff happens it can affect your perception of the book you’re reading.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid that this happened this time around. Despite The Drowned Cities having a vivid, well-developed dystopia world, I just could not get into it, no matter how hard I tried. I think maybe the darkness and unpleasantness that is done so well, was too much for me when I might have preferred lightness.

I did skim the entire book, thoroughly, after giving it about seventy pages to change my mind. So, I know where it went, how it ended, etc. From what I could tell, it was decent. Probably more so. But, to be honest, the plot wasn’t as thrilling, suspenseful, or involving as Ship Breaker was to me.

But there are themes of loyalty, friendship, and sacrifice amidst a somber, dreary, cruel time – which is stirring. And I know that that The Drowned Cities most definitely deserves a better chance than I was able to give it at this time.

So, as always, I encourage you to read it if it sounds like your genre, etc. This time around, I just wasn’t pulled in enough, and therefore I could not push myself to spend too much time on it. Sorry!

*I received a review copy of The Drowned Cities from Hachette Book Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.

Also, for all you dystopia lovers - there's a YA book called The Forsaken that came out yesterday by Lisa Stasse. To see the book trailer, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtIwks26SZU.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Commercial Breaks: Famous for Thirty Seconds

Famous for Thirty Seconds is the first book in Commercial Breaks, a contemporary middle grade series by P. G. Kain.

Thirteen-year-old Brittany Rush has been appearing in commercials since she was in diapers. She’s been one of the top-booking girls her age – and loves it. In fact, sometimes she’d arrive at a callback and other girls would simply up-and-leave at the sight of her – knowing it was practically hopeless to get chosen when she was an option.

But then her parents had to go and ruin her life by taking her and her sister to Hong Kong for business for a year. Now that she’s finally back – she’s ready to jump back into her career with both feet.

Problem is, more has changed since she left than she’d like to acknowledge. She’s not so special anymore. Another girl has become the top-booker, and Brittany is in the unique situation of being one of the other, forgettable, generically pretty girls.

This cannot be tolerated.

Brittany comes up with a scheme to win back the spotlight – because a life without it… well, she can’t imagine it.

But is there a possibility that there is more to life than being famous for thirty seconds?

Famous for Thirty Seconds
is a cute, perky, behind-the-scenes look at kid acting, commercial auditions, callbacks, and filming. P. G. Kain uses his own experience to pepper in all kinds of great details that make for a fascinating look at how those pesky commercials are made.

The first Commercial Breaks novel focuses on a wake-up call for Brittany, and maybe a good old-fashioned lesson in humility. Sometimes Brittany wasn’t the most likable character – she can be self-absorbed and an expert at bad decisions – but she’s never unlikable either.

It’s a fun, light easy read that has a good message without skimping on the entertainment. Famous for Thirty Seconds is fast paced and as fluffy as cotton candy. Very enjoyable.

I’d definitely see how younger girls would love it, but even older readers can be chirpily diverted with it. If I ever get Picture Perfect, the second book in the series, in my hands – I wouldn’t hesitate to read it.

Commercial Breaks is sure to be a sought-after, fun series.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Wicked and the Just

The Wicked and the Just is a YA historical fiction novel by J. Anderson Coats.

Cecily desperately wants to return home to her beloved Edgeley Hall, where her father was lord of the manor and they were well-off. But he has ruined her life by uprooting them to Caernarvon, English occupied Wales, where he can provide them a household, though a lesser one, for almost nothing.

Her only consolation is that, if all goes well, Cecily can be lady of the house. It would please her to be able to control the goings-ons of the servants.

Gwenhwfar has dreamed of being the lady of the house as well – that is, before the English came and destroyed everything. Now she has to perform every demeaning activity asked of her and struggle to feed her brother, her mother – everybody. And her mistress is Cecily, the girl who is in the position she ought to have been.

This is the story of the tensions growing in Wales and how they must finally reach a breaking point…

I had a difficult time with The Wicked and the Just. This was primarily because I found the characters so very unlikable.

Cecily is rude, spoiled, unthinking, and selfish. Though she shows some more kind moments later on, it was a little-too-little, a little-too-late for me to warm to the story. Also, Gwenhwfar is so embittered and hateful – even if it is understandable - that she is even hard to care for.

The Wicked and the Just is an interesting, never boring, story based on true events in the late 1200s. The politics and disturbing racism and prejudice are portrayed well – disturbing and affective. My problem was I didn’t have anyone to root for. I just didn’t really like anybody.

Injustice and medieval anger dominate this unhappy, rather depressing book. So, though The Wicked and the Just is not necessarily a bad book at all – I think it was written well and served the purpose I believe the author tried to convey – it was just far more unpleasant for me than I prefer. Even if a book is about a sad, upsetting situation – I need something to hang on to. And here, I didn’t find it.

I encourage you to check it out, especially if you are a historical fiction lover – but don’t expect a cheerful read.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Extraordinary*

Happy July 4th everybody! :)

Extraordinary* the true story of my fairy godparent, who almost killed me and certainly never made me a princess is a YA urban fantasy humor novel by Adam Selzer.

Straight-A, Shakespeare-lover Jennifer just wants to chill out during her senior year. She’s already been accepted to a college that is of high-standing in Iowa and she’s ready to relax after all the hard work.

Also, she wants to start taking steps toward being the eccentric, cool woman she aspires to be. First step? Color her hair purple. She loves purple. Second step? Finally go to a school dance by getting the relatively cute guy in her Human/Post-Human Alliance group to ask her – and hope that helps her get over her absurdly long crush on Mutual Scrivener whom she hasn’t seen since sixth grade when he mysteriously disappeared with his parent’s overnight.

Pathetic? Yeah.

The next events in Jennifer’s story have been sorely misrepresented by Eileen Codlin’s horrifically inaccurate Born to Be Extraordinary. This is supposedly a portrayal of Jennifer’s soon-to-arrive fairy godmother and how she became a princess.

Princess? Ha ha.

It did not happen like that. First of all, there was no sparkly, kind, frou-frou fairy godmother. He was a sloppy, unkempt, odious little man named Gregory Grue – and he preferred to be called a fairy godmofo.

And he almost killed her. This is the TRUE story of Jennifer’s “magical” senior year…

Extraordinary is truly a hilarious novel, and a breath of fresh air!

This is a wacky, inventive, unpredictable fairy-tale taking place in an alternative, contemporary Iowa setting where vampires are an accepted truth – the principal is one! – and zombies attacked the prom. Then we have Jennifer with her chubby, intellectual, clever, relatable ordinary-ness.

Sadly, the cover of Extraordinary really misrepresents Jennifer. It gives off a more little-kid, Disney movie poster feel with a thin girl with brown hair! Not the case at all! Not only does Jennifer look totally different, but the tone is far more older-teen oriented – and funnier than it looks.

We get hysterical snippets of Born to Be Extraordinary, the false book based on Jennifer’s experiences, which is a satirical, laugh-out-loud terrible idea of a “typical” teen book.

Extraordinary was unique, fast-paced and very, very fun – providing chuckles, hee-haws, giggles, and snorts! It’s imaginative, entertaining, and surprisingly morbid. I really, really liked it!

Adam Selzer creates a story that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a story that plays with the clichés and tired plotlines that have been recycled over and over. Plus, the cast of secondary characters are vibrant and amusing as well!

I recommend it for sure!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Girl in the Steel Corset

The Girl in the Steel Corset is a YA steampunk novel by Kady Cross.

Oh dear. This is what I needed to rev up my bibliophile engine again! :)

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has just lost herself yet another job as a lady’s maid after a young lord tried to take liberties with her and – well – she beat him to a pulp.

She’s a small slip of a thing, but inside of her is a being of some sort that craves a good fight. And when it takes over, as it often does in this sort of situation, Finley is only an observer as she develops a super-strength that takes the would-be rapist by surprise.

The question is, as he lies unconscious, what is Finley to do?

This “thing” inside of her alarms her – it’s a complete loss of control that is supernatural and violent. And she’s going to be getting a reputation that will make it far more difficult to get another job. All she can think to do in the moment is run away…

Eighteen-year-old Griffin King, the young Duke of Greythorne, almost runs into her while on his velocycle – and in that moment he sees the darkness in her. He sees two auras in one young woman, something unprecedented in his time of seeing the Aether, the invisible force all around us. He immediately takes her back to his home of misfits, consumed with curiosity.

There Finley meets Jasper, an American cowboy with a mysterious past, brilliant Emily that has her own special abilities, and the young man she has unrequited feelings for: Sam, a “mandroid” with both human and robot parts. Yet Finley’s warring insides alternately want to rip them all apart on her way out of there or is distrusting, wary, and desperately hopeful that these people might be the answer to helping her.

Meanwhile, Griffin is investigating a criminal called The Machinist that is a genius behind a rash of aggressive, frightening crimes committed by automatons.

But as they investigate The Machinist, he seems to be investigating them…

Ah… (that was a sigh of happiness, if you couldn’t tell) this is what I’ve been needing!

The Girl in the Steel Corset kicks off with an awesome, kick-ass start that introduces us to Finley with her Buffy-like strength and bloodlust Jekyll and Hyde complex. Mmmm, that’s the way to start a book!

I have been realizing how much I liked steampunk, as hard of a genre as it is to explain… It’s a perfect mixture of Victorian-era (usually, though not always) alternative history with way more automatons, steam/clockwork technology and a mesh of fantasy/sci-fi. Awesome!

Here, with The Girl in the Steel Corset, I was infatuated with each individual plotline and happily immersed in the dark powers and machines of alternative 1897 London! We get a mixture of memorable characters that pop off the page, strong smarts, and a sense of both seriousness and fun.

The mystery, intrigue, fantasy excellence, and hints of romance create a truly delectable dessert of a novel! The Girl in the Steel Corset has fantastic twists, emotions I care about, great Dr. Jekyll & My Hyde/Frankenstein parallels and a dastardly villain in The Machinist!

Now, I was a TAD disappointed later on – because I figured out The Machinist’s “master plan” before our brainy, ragtag bunch of abnormal heroes and heroines – but I did see that plot coming a little since I was a fan of (*Possible Spoiler Alert if you were/are a fan of lesser known Disney movies from a bygone 90s era!*) The Great Mouse Detective when I was little. (*Possible Spoiler Alert Over!*) Though here it is, of course, far more sleek and stylish with a completely different plot!

It’s an extremely hard book to stop reading, at least in my opinion. I had a blast! I am ecstatic that there is a second book out called The Girl in the Clockwork Collar! I need it! I want it! I must have it! :)

The Girl in the Steel Corset has such a motley, entertaining, detective/action, steampunk vibe that I believe it could sustain a series – beyond hopefully just a trilogy or something like that. It’s called The Steampunk Chronicles – and I hope that means that author Kady Cross will be chronicling many, many adventures with these characters!

Because that would make me happy.

And you wouldn’t want to make me angry… You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry…

P. S. If you didn’t know, that was a reference to the 70s TV series The Incredible Hulk, which seemed appropriate with Finley’s issues. :)