Published: 24th May 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Description from Goodreads:
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her.
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've never really read a steampunk novel before (does Clockwork Angel count?) so the over-descriptive prose really put me off at first. I mean, it's not like it was *really* descriptive, but obviously small things have to be described that wouldn't be described in non-steampunk books. Like the handheld wireless telegraph machines. We'd be all "Griffin whipped out his phone" not "Griffin whipped out his BlackBerry Bold 9780, which with its..blahblahblah" so yeah, that took a bit of getting used to for me. It also annoyed me that Cross felt the need to point out that everyone's boots were thick-soled. Okay, it's steampunk therefore they're wearing clunky boots to epitomise this, I get it. That bugged me slightly. There was also an incident of third-person omniscient narration (thanks to everyone on twitter who helped when I couldn't remember what this was called!) which is my absolute pet hate in Third-Person narratives. It really pulls me out of the story.
Anyway, the writing in general didn't really do anything for me-it was okay, but not brilliant and aside from the few hiccups above it didn't really bug me.
The plot was interesting, I thought use of the name The Machinist was unfortunate, because I kept thinking of an emaciated Christian Bale whenever it was mentioned. I loved the take on the Jekyll/Hyde story, I thought that was an excellent choice and the way it was elaborated with the organites too was interesting. I thought it got a bit ridiculous at times with all the superpowers floating about, but I saw the logic behind it. I thought the main storyline fell a little flat, I figured it all out before it happened, though I expected some elements of it we were supposed to, because I was sat there going "noooo what are you dooooinnnggg". But I thought all the characters were pretttyyyyy dense for not figuring out how the petty crimes being committed were all related. I literally got it from the first clue, and if *I* can get it I'm pretty sure a brainbox like Emily should have.
Which brings us onto the characters. I loved Finley Jayne. It's the first time in a while that I've really connected to the female protag, but I really really liked her. She seemed very real and it was easy to feel sympathy towards her situation without feeling like she was being too whiny. I liked Emily too-I thought she was really sweet and it was nice to see a brainy female. Griffin and Sam both annoyed the heck out of me. Like seriously, especially Sam. He was SO annoying. His issues just made me feel like he was selfish and petty. Griffin was just too nice there was no substance to his character whatsoever. However there was one character that really, really did it for me and that was Jack Dandy. Jack is the perfect love interest for me, he's a bit of a dick, plenty of arrogance but cares for the female protag and would do pretty much anything to help her. Or 'elp er, in Jack speech. I desperately wanted to see more of him, and learn more of his backstory and he is definitely my favourite male character for a longgggg time. He reminds me a bit of Damon from the Vampire Diaries books. I loved the way Kady Cross wrote his dialogue, I could hear him speaking in my head which really helped bring him to life for me. I kinda feel like most male characters have been...emasculated a bit recently. They're all too...nice for me. I like the mean ones. I imagine that says a lot about me personally, but I love a bit of arrogance and flippancy in my love interests. Jack Dandy is actually perfect. Kady Cross, feel free to send me that t-shirt and membership form for the 'I heart Jack Dandy' club whenever you want ;)
I'm gonna give this 4/5, a few elements let it down for me but overall it was an excellent read. If you're looking to get into the steampunk genre or if you just wanna fantasise about Jack Dandy it's definitely worth a read.