A definite 4.5, but I'll say 5 so more people pick it up - it's certainly a must read!
I devoured all 496 pages in one plane trip. I do NOT do that wi...moreA definite 4.5, but I'll say 5 so more people pick it up - it's certainly a must read!
I devoured all 496 pages in one plane trip. I do NOT do that with a book that isn't something special. I couldn't even if I tried.
Distopian seem to be the new vampire. Once I pushed through the first couple of chapters, I really fell for Tris' desire to prover herself to herself. Ultimately, it felt like as much as she ended up proving to others' that she belonged with the Dauntless (or rather, not in Abnegation), she was really proving to herself that she could be more than she had previously allowed herself to be.
The concept of choosing one main personality/character trait for life is an interesting one. It makes me wonder whether or not we are capable of doing such a thing, and in our world of 'you can be whoever you choose to be' and political correctness, do we flounder in our freedom to be too many things at once?
Roth's portrayal of human interactions and relationships felt right on track. The differing personalities (and backgrounds) of the new transfers in Dauntless, and the way they act in their new world and around each other, are brilliantly done and interpreted wonderfully through Tris' perspective. Four's openness to reveal his greatest fears and vulnerability to share them with Tris, nearly broke my heart it was so beautiful. Perhaps my favourite moment of unexpected humanity (in a setting where it is easy to forget these characters' humanity) is when Four gets drunk. It reminded me so much of a moment that could have happened between Tris and Four if the book were set in a different time and different place - a world more like our own.
Which brings me to the key of what I love in a successful distopian story - the idea that humanity is humanity, regardless of what circumstances they exist in.
Naturally, a debut novel will contain the occasional twitch or plot flaw that will remind you that it isn't actually perfect, but they were just little things that jumped out at me while reading and I can't recall any of them now. The only thing I still roll my eyes at just a little is the mildly cliche twist at the end (must not spoil mini-twist!). Okay, so maybe not a cliche, but it was the only part that frustrated me. Yet I loved the naturally necessary "boy ends up with girl" and as much of a "good triumphs" ending that a first-in-a-series can have.
Girl in the Steel Corset was my, intriguing and well-written, introduction into the steam-punk genre. Although it took several chapters to get my head...moreGirl in the Steel Corset was my, intriguing and well-written, introduction into the steam-punk genre. Although it took several chapters to get my head around what my mind should be picturing, the visual imagery was well developed. There is a blend of history, machinery and an almost magical substance that altogether create a world that seems so close, yet also so far away from our own.
Finley Jayne is somewhat of an anti-hero. Her duality of personalities is as confusing to the reader as it is to herself for a majority of the novel. The darker, confident and impossibly strong, side of Finley, is nevertheless what secures her acceptance into the band of misfits living in Duke Griffith King’s mansion – and with it, their secrets and dangerous mission.
Griffin himself plays duel roles – the leader who has been involved in the plot his whole life, with extraordinary power to access the parallel spirit world, but also the (often jealous) friend and brother to his fellow outcasts. He is accompanied by the brooding half-machine Sam, and his supposedly unrequited love-interest, mechanic Emily, who knows everything about everything – as long as it is made of metal. Rounding out the gang is the American cowboy Jasper who’s supernatural speed proves useful, yet his interest in Emily causes Sam to examine his own feelings.
Their pursuit of the dangerous Machinist criminal causes them to doubt each other, seek the help of a renowned underworld crime boss, Jack Dandy (who has his roguish eyes on Finley) and visit the Queen of England. The whole thing is utterly fantastical – but that’s what a good fantasy is all about!
Criticism? The agonising question of ‘will they, won’t they?’ relationship between Griffin and Finley is never answered. The tension is real, I can’t have imagined it, and I don’t think it is my romantic nature that demands a good snogging in every book I read. I’m not opposed to books without romance, just can’t stand an closure that leaves an ending like theirs untied. The almost-as-slow development of Sam and Emily’s relationship is of only slight consolation.
Overall, a good book. Not the greatest I have read in recent weeks (some are hard to beat!) but most certainly not the worst. Steam-punk isn’t quite my ‘thing’, but I would be interested to read others in the genre. And I will eagerly anticipate the sequel – if only to find romantic closure.
I'll start off with the reason that it didn't quite make the 5 star rating - it was cliched. Beautifully written, as orig...more4.5 stars - maybe even 4.75!
I'll start off with the reason that it didn't quite make the 5 star rating - it was cliched. Beautifully written, as original as one can expect fantasy-set-in-highschool to be, but cliche none the less. Call me anti-feminist, a hopeless romantic, or general sook, but soul mates get me all giddy. Of course the "bad boy" isn't really a bad boy, and although we perhaps didn't get as much of a backstory for Brendan as I would like, he seemed a lovely balance of maturity and insecurity. Emma was pleasantly un-victim-like for someone with her tragic background. Humility is something that I always admire in any protagonist - and it's a wonderfully common character trait in books that falls short in many real life humans I know.
Emma may be humble, but she is by no means a doormat. The way she is treated in her new school, Vincent Academy, is frightful, but pales in comparison to the realisation of what she really has to battle. Of course there was the stereotypical mega-bitch, the pig of a jock, and the outcast who turns out to be very useful.
Although there was no physical enemy that Emma and Brendan had to face throughout the novel, the danger felt was tangible. A curse passed down generations that has drawn them together - and neither of them are willing to walk away from what they feel in order to prevent fate. Reminiscent of another popular couple, a sparkly vampire and his doe-eyed brunette lady friend? Perhaps. But Emma is not Bella. Emma has a mental and emotional strength that isn't compromised when she allows Brendan into her life - she fights her own battles to the best of her capabilities.
I wish I could say exactly what it is that made this such a page-turner. It may have been the beautiful blossoming love (oh dear, blossoming? I need read something dystopian next I think…), or maybe the need to know how on earth they were going to dig themselves out of a curse that had thwarted many others before them. Either way, I had to finish it as soon as possible.