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The Steampunk Chronicles #1

The Girl in the Steel Corset

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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.

473 pages, Hardcover

First published May 24, 2011

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About the author

Kady Cross

17 books1,915 followers
Kady Cross is a pseudonym for USA Today bestselling author Kathryn Smith. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and a pride of cats. She likes singing with Rock Band on the 360, British guys, Vietnamese food, and makeup (she’s hopelessly addicted to YouTube makeup tutorials!). When she’s not writing Kady likes to catch up on her favorite TV shows, read a good book or make her own cosmetics.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,540 reviews
Profile Image for Vinaya.
185 reviews2,092 followers
April 5, 2011
OhthankyouGodJesusit'sfinallyover!!!! Phew! Reading this book was a constant battle against narcolepsy.

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The Girl in the Steel Corset pretty much embodies everything that is wrong with YA today. It's all about the packaging, and nothing to do with substance. This book had one of the most attention-grabbing titles I have seen this year; the cover moves beyond pretty into a new realm of gorgeous (notice the little clockwork design on the wallpaper? so awesome!); and it has a very enticing blurb/synopsis that gives no hint of the load of meh waiting inside.

So this is supposed to be a steampunk novel. This is supposed to be a steampunk novel for young adults. This is supposed to be a steampunk novel for young adults revolving around murder, conspiracies and mechanical mayhem.

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Yeah, I'm still waiting on that order...

So there's an ill-treated serving girl who runs away from this rich aristocrat who tries to molest her. She runs straight into the arms of a richer, handsome, personable and kind-hearted duke. Said duke thinks she's gorgeous, but she has some 'issues' he needs to help her overcome before they can be together. One of the obstacles to the path of true love is some evil guy planning to take over the world, but more importantly, well... there's this other guy...

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This book frustrates me because it had so much potential! It could have been YA's heaven-sent answer to Clockwork Angel. But no. Instead, it's just a historical romance with a bit of mechanical robots thrown in. And a very childish mystery that even my toddler would have rejected. And a completely pointless and unnecessary love triangle. And a sacrilegious dumbing-down of one of the coolest horror stories ever- yes, ladies and gentlemen, our heroine is the DAUGHTER of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde. And she's boring!!!

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This gif has more personality than Finley Jayne

This book is riddled with inconsistencies. For example, Finley dresses in short pants, she spends the night unchaperoned at a single man's house, she learns kung-fu with some shirtless guy, yet when the hero wants to show her his tattoo, she wants to remind him that it's 'improper' to unbutton his shirt in front of a lady! O-kay, then.

The love triangle is ridiculous and ridiculously clichéd. There's the virtuous and boring hero, the interesting-but-strangely-accommodative crime lord who's secretly supah-sensitive despite his bad boy image. Finley, of course, is torn between these two cardboard cutouts and cannot for the life of her choose between these two handsome, dashing men who are so far out of her league that she ought not to be entertaining any fantasies about them anyway. Bad boy Jack Dandy is apparently a well-educated plummy type who affects a Cockney accent for some unfathomable reason. He plays NO role in the book except as the additional love interest, an angle that this already-terrible book could have done without.

I don't generally rave about the show-don't-tell rule, because I like descriptive writing, as long as it is done well. 'Done well' being the operative phrase here. This book just tells and tells and tells without ever getting interesting. The secondary characters are weirdly flat, except for best-friend Sam, who is just TSTL. It's not often that I see a male TSTL character, so kudos to the author for not being restrained by gender biases!

As mentioned before the mystery/thriller aspect of the story is handled clumsily. It's as if the author wanted to focus on the romance, but forced herself to shove some mystery into the plot so that the book wouldn't get shelved in the romance section.

I guess the steampunk aspect of this novel wasn't completely hideous. Just a little too convenient. There were too many modern devices that made an appearance, only instead of being battery-powered they were steam-powered. I liked the concept of the Organites, a sort of mysterious organism that is speculated as being the source of life, but they were just sort of introduced and never explained properly. Neither was the magic, or the group's strange abilities, or even Finley's integration of her light and dark sides. Basically, every interesting thing in this book was left dangling while we pursued the boring hero and heroine through their boring lives.

I really had to force myself to finish this book, because I feel a sort of moral obligation not to abandon ARCs. If I had bought this book, believe you me, I would have abandoned it a hundred pages in, and never looked back. The writing is a weird mixture of too modern, forcedly Victorian and strangely idiomatic. It doesn't gel well at all! My recommendation? Don't bother!

Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the publishers via Net Galley. No external considerations affected this review.
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,636 reviews34k followers
April 13, 2011
This book is the first part in a new series called The Steampunk Chronicles, and there is some measure of success in some of the devices used here. The Organites in particular are pretty cool (if borrowing somewhat from Star Trek), as they are tiny life-giving creatures that can heal scars and mend bones. Many of the other steampunk elements are also fun, including the decorative but useful steel corset designed for Finley by her friend Emily.

But after awhile, there's almost too much technology on show, particularly when random devices make appearances for no apparent reason. There is an instant camera, rebuilding of hearts, and numerous other scientific discoveries that just aren't very convincing. Further straining credibility is the notion that Emily, a teenaged girl, would be so proficient in medicine, surgery, and the use of aforementioned technology, despite any back story to indicate her training or education. There's also a disturbing lack of adult presence in this book, and the few that make appearances seem merely there for show. On top of this, the plot itself is pretty thin, there's very little character development, and the attempts to mimic the language of the time is awkward at best.

This book starts out with a bang as Finley flees the household where she's been mistreated and then encounters the self-same lord in a dark alley. Unfortunately, it quickly loses momentum as it becomes apparent that this is essentially a romance novel with a gorgeous cover and some great action scenes. The steampunk genre certainly invites a certain suspension of disbelief, but Victorian England--and its manners and mores--should be more than just a set decoration for a story that is placed in that era. Readers who crave fun, well-written steampunk would do better to find Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel, which skillfully blends mystery, magic, and strong characters and plot in with the distinct language and customs of the day.

This review also appears in
The Midnight Garden
; a review copy was provided by the publisher.
Profile Image for Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews).
1,700 reviews874 followers
April 18, 2012
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

2 out of 5 stars and that's me, being very kind and generous towards a very trying, unoriginal and bland novel. This was quite nearly a DNF for me. Some books just read effortlessly and easily and some books are a struggle from the first page until the last and The Girl in the Steel Corset is definitely a member of the latter group. Only a few things could have kept me going in this four-hundred page mess and one of them was the immense, looming obligation I felt to read ARC I received for the equally-long-winded sequel, The Girl in the Clockwork Collar. Several aspects of this first novel were mystifying to me amid and during my boredom and struggle to complete it - like why, exactly, is this lip-service "steampunk" novel so many readers' first (and judging by the "gadgetry" shown in this novel, their only taste) taste of that kooky and inventive subgenre? And why is Finley so brainless and hard to like? I have to readily admit my experience with Finley and her misfits were much less than satisfactory and note honestly that if I hadn't won this book, I would be pissed at having spent my hard-earned cash on it.

The Girl in the Steel Corset is just plain bad often, and frequently a mess by many measures. There're love triangles galore (Jack-Finley-Griffin and Sam-Emily-Jasper), missed character potential in order to focus on fripperies, coffee (coffee?? I'm sorry - I thought that this was alternate England not a new universe. Where's the tea?!) and clothing, and most damning (and frustrating as a reader) of all, there are unfulfilled and unexplained plotlines AFTER the resolution and roundup on the final page (). I have major, major issues with how the steampunk aspect was "incorporated" into the story - I like steampunk quite a lot and have read several series just for the inventive gadgets and sky-high dirigibles. When it's done well, steampunkery can add a certain flair and fun to a much more straight-forward tale. When it's done like here in The Girl with the Steel Corset, it comes across more as a bunch of deux-ex-machinas draped in clockwork - every invention in the novel comes across as just too convenient or perfect for the situation at hand. Cross's "steampunkery" leaves a lot to be desired and overall, doesn't add anything vital to the story at hand.

Character-wise, we also have some issues.

Finley Jayne.
My issues with Finley began about two minutes into the book, give or take. As the novel opens, everything seems to be lined up in the young Miss Jayne's favor: she's smart, strong and can kick some arrogant lordling ass. However, as she's running away from the introductory attempted rape and her violent response to the situation, she LITERALLY runs into another strange young lordling but decides to follow that one home...to stay. Her logic being that her mom's going be pissed she lost her job with Asshole "Attempted Rapist" Lordling of Jackass Hall. Uhh.... ok, then, I guess? From that less than auspicious meeting point, I further got tired of Finley's brainlessness: she repeatedly makes harebrained, dangerous decisions without informing anyone else of her plans, she doesn't think consequences through and she's difficult.

Griffin King.
I'm just going to stop a moment and ponder the possibility of a Duke in 1800's England having the surname of 'King'. Really? I'm supposed to buy that? And what is with YA authors and painfully obvious names/surnames? Griffin is like a mix of a Batman origin story (parents murdered, forever seeks justice in an unjust world as a result) in an I, Robot world (machines trying to kill Sam against their programming). Much like his lady counterpart, Griff's characterization, and like everyone else's, is blunt and repetitive. This is not a book for any kind of subtlety or subterfuge - Kady Cross is an author that likes to beat her points around your head until you collapse. Griffin's honorable and a duke; he's smart and capable and kind. How do I know this? The other characters are kind enough to remark upon his attributes often, both vocally and internally, instead of, y'know, showing me their individual relationships with their actions and dialogue. But besides all that, I do think I have the beginnings of a book crush on the Duke of Greythorne - yes he is too perfect to be real, but he is the most only likeable male in the misfits.

Sam Morgan.
I hate Sam. Few characters have inspired to this level of do-not-want but he did it under 200 pages. Sam is the most unlikeable, undeveloped and hardest-to-understand character out of the whole bloody lot. In a cast of similarly clouded and unrounded characters, he takes the cake as the most frustrating. He's also quite thick - I called his twist as soon as it appeared disguised on the page. His actions towards Finley (like trying to MURDER her) do nothing to redeem his character - he is merely tedious in his capslockian rage.

Griffin's telekinetic and telepathic aunt quickly emerged somewhat of a major issue for me. Cordelia tends to use brute mental force to invade someone's mind just because she can and she wants to, despite being asked and TOLD by Finley, repeatedly, to not mess around in her head. Cordelia also violates Griffin's expressed desires for cranular privacy, but self-control and heeding the wishes of others clearly matters very little to his guardian/aunt. Her part reduced more and more as the novel went on and the kids grew into their roles and independence and I wasn't sorry to see her go.

Characters I did like, for the most part:

Emily O'Brien.
Emily is the Irish genius behind Griff's crime-fighting force. While I got very tired of seeing the word "ropey" attached to describe her hair, and her "lads" and "lass" at the end of every sentence wore my patience, Emily is the best part of the novel. She's smart, self-aware and every-bit as interesting as main character Finley Jayne.

Jack Dandy.
Dandy is the final leg in the love triangle of Griff and Finley and despite that working against him, I quite like the fake Cockney bastard - I'm always up to root for a good antihero. He, at least, has personality to burn and verve. While I found the overdone and obvious attraction between him and Finley to be well, overdone and obvious, he is certainly a scene-stealer and amusing. I liked that he was very different from Griff - one appeals the pure side of Finley and one to the darker - but I do wish he had had more point in the story than just causing romantic friction between the main characters.

There are admittedly some cool ideas at play here (Griff's abilities, the mutations of the group due to the exposure to the Organites) but unfortunately, much of what is good gets lost in the shuffle and the tedium offered in the rest of the book. Perhaps this would've been a stronger novel if there hadn't been so many POVs, but rather just Finley. Griffin's is an acceptable narrative because it complements Finley's nicely, but Sam's adds absolutely nothing to the reading experience except an increased apathy for the part-robot. And if the characters aren't the selling point of the novel, the plot and action had better make up for it -except that is not the case here. In fact, after Finley's dustup and then meetup with Griff and until her showdown with Sam, there's very little real action to be had for a novel about a girl worried at one point about begin possessed by a violent demon.

The Girl in the Steel Corset is frustrating, time-consuming and an energy-sapping read. I hate being disappointed in books I've looked forward to reading which is perhaps 10% of the reason why I'm being quite so harsh here; there's just so much unrealized potential passed over (Em's brilliance) for less compelling ideas (Finley's dual nature). There is an open ending that leads quite obviously to the main events and plot of book two, but I was underwhelmed by both the final conflict and the denouement shown here. There is also no reason for this book to have the length it does - a dab hand at editing could excise about 50 - 100 pages of nonessential data and detail and have a more streamlined, consistent, and involving novel. All in all, if I didn't have a copy of book two waiting, I wouldn't continue this series.
Profile Image for Kristi.
1,193 reviews2,902 followers
June 3, 2011
Steampunk-ery at it's best. This is one steam-tastic debut! Steam-erific.... okay I'm done.

This is my second "steampunk" novel and although it was quite a bit different than the other novel I read, I am finding myself enamored with this genre!

Finley. Wow, that girl can kick some butt. I think that I was immediately drawn to her because of that power she had. Seriously, I would love to be able to kick someone's ass like that! Well, when the occasion called for it.... being controlled by a darker side, is something that I don't really have an interest in at all.

The characters and the world are what I enjoyed the most. I loved their quirks and the haphazard family that they created for each other, it was all rather endearing. And I loved the darkness and mystery surrounding the one and only Jack Dandy... now there is a character I want to see a little more of. I'd say he has a few secrets hidden up his sleeves. I'll admit that I had the bad guy pegged and his evil plan all figured out, long before the intelligent characters in this novel did! But it was still fun watching them putting all the pieces together themselves. There were a few instances where I was caught by surprise too!

Cross has definitely created a world and characters that I can't wait to visit again!
Profile Image for Alana.
341 reviews89 followers
May 12, 2011
Within the acknowledgments at the end of her book, Kady Cross describes her original desire to write The Girl in the Steel Corset as "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets teen X-Men." There's really no better way to describe this novel than that -- for Kady Cross did obviously want to write that novel. Her talent seems to rest in creating an interesting world and atmosphere where those kinds of elements can come together. The problem, though, is that a great number of other things seemed to fall by the wayside in order to craft such a world, including a clear narrative, character investment, and a large amount of tension within the story arc.

Steampunk and packed with adventure, The Girl in the Steel Corset opens upon a young serving maid named Finley Jayne who believes she's struggling with a darker side within, a side that unleashes when she's frightened or angry. Incidentally, we're treated to a display of this when the master's son decides he'd like to take advantage of the new serving girl, and he winds up beaten unconscious. As Finley is aware that she'll be lucky if she only winds up dismissed from her position and not arrested, the voice in her head offers some solid advice -- flee before either can happen. Dashing into the street as she escapes, Finley is nearly run down -- conveniently, by the only young man in all of London who can truly help her. Within his circle of friends, she finds even more frightening prospects than dealing with her own internal struggles -- the possibility of understanding, a useful place, and true friends.

The Girl in the Steel Corset gets major points based on cover and book design alone -- I loved the dips and curls of the script combined with the cogs on chapter pages and the lush cover is quite vibrant. My experience with steampunk literature is rather limited (aka Gordon Dahlquist and Gail Carriger), so perhaps staunch supporters of the genre would be able to really enjoy the detail that Cross goes in to. The world that Cross paints has the benefit of luxury (as one of the main characters and leader of the group, Griffin King, is a wealthy young Duke) being contrasted with the gritty world outside. There are still all kinds of crazy mechanical contraptions (including a whole lot of robots) and fashions that work in a good deal of body piercings. Introducing a unique element (or at least making it something *I* haven't yet seen before), Cross features a new form of ore that seems to function as a blended mechanical/organic composite -- and keeping this substance away from those who would use its powers for evil will obviously occupy a lot of time in the series... well, that and trying to figure out just how it works and how it has affected those who come in contact with it. Oh, and there's also this thing called the aether, which seems to encompass all living livings -- and dead ones, as it seems spirits exist in the aether. Are you smirking yet? I'll admit, I smirked quite often, and yet I think steampunk enthusiasts are willing to accept a lot of crazy things for the sake of fun, even if this seemed more sci-fi at times.

I would try to explain the plotline in greater detail, but truth be told, I still haven't managed to shake the feeling that I was tossed into a series midway through, and so I find it hard to summarize in anything vaguely resembling a linear trajectory. Even when you know the book says "Steampunk Chronicles #1," I still felt the compulsive need to do some internet research and see if there weren't, perhaps, other series somehow linked to this one... and even when I came up with nothing under this same author name, I still remain somewhat unconvinced that there isn't a manuscript floating around out there with earlier story installments for these characters. Without proof of that, though, my only explanation is that Cross seeks to put the reader on par with Finley, who is entering a group of friends rather late in the game, as they have a whole history of collaboration to their credit. There are, however, much better ways to suggest this than leaving your reader with the near-constant distracting feeling that she's missing something. It's downright frustrating to have lots of complications right at the start and a large cast of characters that obviously have convoluted emotions towards each other. The romantic tangles seemed to be more fitting for a second or third series installment, as triangles seemed already in place, and the characters themselves were never developed enough to the point where I felt like I sincerely cared for them. The story seemed to expect I would care about the good guys simply because I was told to (though some effort is put in to painting a "bad guy" as still being interesting and alluring). Finley herself is rather lacking in personality -- which almost seems hard to imagine, given that she's supposed to have two distinctly different sides, so you'd think at least one would jump out at you. Two strong male characters are drawn to her and yet I see no reason for them to feel this pull. And the villain? Well, I kept picturing "The Machinist" as Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget and that's just not a good sign. His motivations (once we get to know them) seem flimsy and evil-villainy where one might otherwise hope for some nuance or at least solid reasoning.

In the end, I was rather disappointed in The Girl in the Steel Corset as a trailblazer for YA steampunk. (The only thing that seemed to make it YA appeared to be the ages of the main characters and the PG romance. There are romantic storylines in play, but nothing that ever takes us beyond an impassioned kiss.) Even the title ultimately proved misleading, as the steel corset really isn't an integral element to the story, beyond its not-so-subtle fusion of the time period's costume with industrial steel-work. Hopefully Cross will be able to hit her stride with later books and develop her writing abilities, but I'm rather doubtful that I'll pick up future installments in this series.

Please note that I received an advanced review copy of this novel courtesy of NetGalley for the purpose of review.
Profile Image for Patrícia.
991 reviews99 followers
July 16, 2017
RATING: 2.5 stars.

The Girl in the Steel Corset. You look at the title and it makes you interested; if you're easily swayed by a cover (like I am) you'll be impressed with the beautiful red dress and the hint of the aforementioned steel corset. Then you read the synopsis... and you think "well, this definitely sounds good". I know that is what I thought. The neat packaging, the steampunk world and the fact that our main character is a strong female in Victorian times, a character that has a "Jekyll and Hyde" feel to her... all of it sounds intriguing.

Unfortunately the actual book isn't as good as it promises. The best word to describe it is... "average". Maybe even "dull". Or if you want to enter the realm of comparison, then it's "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". No, really.

Cardboard story, cardboard characters and cardboard world. Cardboard defines The Girl in the Steel Corset. The story is boring, reads like a badly written sci-fi/steampunk movie and/or like an (even worse) YA version of... "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Everything correlates: The group of heroes with the special powers; the mysterious, technically savyy villain, the service to "Her Majesty, Queen Victoria"... everything. The plot was just so thin and predictable I was surprised the characters took so long to figure out the evil guy's plans. I mean I kind of knew from almost the beginning.

The characters aren't much better. The author managed to make them perfect YA stereotypes, even though this novel takes place in the 19th century. There's even twice the unrealistic love stories and twice the love triangles!!! As for Finley Jayne, the female protagonist, I'm not sure how Cross accomplished the feat of making her the most boring, dull and characterless girl to grace a YA book since Bella Swan. Even Finley's "dark side" is annoyingly... dull.
And don't even get me started on Griffin King! I mean, first of all he has the most ridiculous name! Griffin King? My mind zeroed on Spider Man and the Kingpin every time I read his name. Worst. Name. Ever. Really. And it's probably the most improbable (lol) name for a member of the 19th century British aristocracy too. Of course he is also a cliche.

Last but not least: the world. Steampunk is supposed to be interesting. Except it seemed like the author had a "list of things that exist in a Steampunk world" and ticked it off one by one as she was writing the book. So it's basically generic Steampunk, if that even exists. I didn't feel like there was any trace of originality in the world-building; it didn't feel like the author made an effort to develop her own ideas. It was just... automatons and steam powered machines.

So, overall, The Girl in the Steel Corset (and I'm wondering why it's even called that, the steel corset is, at best, a very minor character) was a pretty 'bland' read. The book didn't display any originality in terms of story, characters or world. I guess it was written in an interesting manner, but I thought the author could have done a lot more with it if only Finley had been more interesting or if the focus of the plot had been different or even if Cross decided not to include the "love story" (if unrealistic, insta-romance can be considered that). I was disappointed with this book, I expected more action and a more lively heroine.
Profile Image for tonya..
227 reviews242 followers
June 20, 2011
Sigh. I really wanted to love this one. I'm a sucker for pretty covers, the author was sweet as pie when I met her and the excerpt she read from the beginning of the book was great. Unfortunately, I only just barely liked it, and if it hadn't been for the fact that I'd received an advance copy of it, I probably wouldn't have finished it.

Things I liked about it:

Finley Jayne has the potential to be a great character. I was on board with the whole Jekyll/Hyde dichotomy and the battle for good and evil going on inside of her. I like it when the main character is a girl who can kick ass and doesn't need anyone to coddle her. She's an exciting and engaging character and as the series progresses I hope Cross can clean up the plot a bit to let her main character shine.

The organites and semi-sentient machines aspect was cool. I haven't read a lot of steampunk, but I liked the historical bent on science fiction.

Things that nearly ruined it for me:

It was LOOOOONG. Nearly 500 pages--and it felt that way. The plot was incredibly slow moving. For all the action in the first few pages, 3/4ths of the book moved at a snail's pace with repetition after repetition, and only the smallest revelations marking forward progress.

As I said, I haven't read much in the steampunk genre, but the fact that they had nearly every modern convenience felt like overkill. I understand this is science fiction, but other than the way the characters talked and dressed, I might not have known it was set in the Victorian age with all the talk of showers and electricity and vehicles--albeit powered in different fashions than we have today. I found myself wondering why Cross bothered to write it in a historical setting at all if she was just going to modernize nearly every aspect. But again, this could just be my unfamiliarity with the genre.

Neither of the love interests did anything for me, and I couldn't figure out why they did anything for Finley either. There was very little chemistry between any of them.

The cheesy romance novel-y writing style. I can't really put my finger on what it is about the writing, only that I knew right away the author had written historical romances before.

All that being said, I did see potential in Finley and was interested in the plot line itself--once she got around to it. I won't completely throw out the possibility of reading the next in the series, but I hope it's pared down with tighter pacing and a more controlled storyline.
Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews707 followers
May 3, 2011
I could list out all the things that just annoyed me. I could say its abrupt. With one thing after another and no breather in between it just become a series of unfortunate events. I could say the tech aspect was a bit too much. I could even say all that describing was too much. But I will go with this: I do not like characters that lack depth which is not really the problem here. Rather it's the complete opposite. I can tell you precisely what Finley, Griff, Sam and Emily all look like; I can tell you what they do and why they do what they do. AND YET: I honestly did/do not care.

When a book tells me loads of stuff, IMO I start not to care. All that description took me away from the story. All I’m saying is let me figure things out myself, with that I will probably never finish this book.

And here’s one more really annoying point~ Finley. At one point she’s swooning at the probable ability of the men she encounters to overpower her… I mean seriously WTF?!?

She might have the strength to harm him, but he wouldn’t go down easily, and she might not survive the altercation… And as with Griffin, this elevated Dandy in her estimation.

*Thanks Net Galley
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,423 reviews215 followers
September 20, 2019
..why didn't I dive into book two yet?

The Girl in the Steel Corset was a fun book to read. It's set in England but the world is a bit different than the one we know of. Well, maybe it's the people living within it that are actually different. Nowadays, there are "things" living within them.. or maybe they are just not human in general. Either way, we meet a 16 year old girl named Finley and there's definitely something different/strange about her.

YET, I loved her character. Ugh, I shipped her with a certain someone (Griff) and I will forever do so. Which is why I really need to find the time to sit down and read the second book. Maybe tomorrow when I'm at my car appointment? Maybe today at work because I always need a distraction from that. OR maybe when I get home - but who really knows when that will happen.

Other than that, really enjoyed this one. I sort of liked the villain in it as well because they were a mystery alright. Hopefully the next one, and the plot, will be a bit better than this one!
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,791 reviews962 followers
July 27, 2017
Not a lot to say besides I really liked this book. I thought it mixed together the elements of steampunk and the Victorian Age very well. I loved the characters, and I loved how Cross added in Gothic elements as well by using inspiration from some stories we all know and love (Frankenstein--well I hated that; Jekyll and Hyde--ditto) and threw some twists in.

"The Girl in the Steel Corset" included a nice little backstory to the character of Finley Jayne. From there it goes into the longer story that has Finley meeting other characters I assume we are to follow for the rest of this series.

Finley's backstory gave us enough of a glimpse to know there is something about her. You don't know what. But at times she feels like she is two people trapped in one body. The short story that began before it included the longer story was so good. I loved it and wish we had followed up with characters introduced in that. When we catch up with Finley again, she ends up fighting off a young lord of the manor who thinks he can take her and do what he wills. When she flees after injuring him, she runs into Griffin King and his friends who are doing what they can to defend the country (England) against outside enemies.

Besides Finley and Griffin, we also have Emily, Sam, Jasper, and a young man called Jack Dandy. We quickly find out that Griffin and his friends (Emily, Sam, and Jasper) are out to capture a man/woman called The Machinist who is behind several crimes that took place involving automatons. However, suspicions turns towards Finley for maybe being involved with the Machinist when things start happening that shows that the criminal is out to get them.

Even though this is a Young Adult book (and yeah I had no idea when I borrowed it from the library) this book reads much older. I didn't even realize the characters are teenagers until I saw someone's age mentioned. That's not a knock against Cross either, it was delightful to read young adults who actually for the most part had sense and thank goodness two love triangles reared their heads, but one was absolutely resolved and I think the other one is too for what it's worth.

The only complaint I will say that I really did have is that this book was a bit too long. I know that Cross had to set up the other characters and do world building though so it's to be expected in the first book in a series. I just honestly didn't need the story to be swinging back to much to Sam. He got tiresome after a while. I do wish we had spent more time with Griffin's aunt on her adventures though.

The setting of a Victorian age with steampunk (think automatons walking around, things people cannot see that are little machines that can repair, people having eyes replaced, etc.) really hit the sweet spot for me.

The ending leaves things in the air for some people. I am definitely going to continue this series to see where it goes.
Profile Image for Anne.
4,061 reviews69.5k followers
April 16, 2012
X-men meets The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Sounded good to me! And it was, too.
I probably would have rated it 4.5 stars, but I knocked a half star off just because love triangles annoy me. Other than that, I have no complaints...and for the record the Triangle wasn't an unbearable part of the story.

It's sad to think I probably wouldn't have given this book a second glance if I hadn't read the prequel novella, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne. Partially due to being burned out on the
Steampunk genre, and partially due to some bad reviews that I read when the book first came out. However, this book had made me realize that there are certain popular reviewers out there that I just share nothing in common with when in comes to books. I wanna be one of the cool kids, but I don't think it's gonna happen.
Oh, well.

Set in an alternative steampunk world, you meet Finley Jayne. She's got a dark side that she fears, and it seems to take over whenever she finds herself threatened or in danger. She also has special abilities . She heals rapidly, hears and sees better, and is faster and stronger than a normal human. Unfortunately, she has no idea why. Lucky for her, she gets run over by the leader of the X-men. Just kidding. She does get run over by the leader of a group of kids who happen to have extraordinary abilities somewhat like hers.
Throw in a deranged plot by a mad scientist , and you have the perfect recipe for an awesome book.
It's like ten pounds of crazy in a five pound bag!
See? I told you guys I was going to find a way to work that line into a review.

Anyway, I liked it.
Profile Image for Sara (Freadom Library).
485 reviews240 followers
August 25, 2017
Actual rating 3.5 stars
#rainbowthon book one, nice plot and amazing characters but writing is dense and it took me a loonngg time to read. Solid start to a series

This review was originally posted at https://freadomlibrary.wordpress.com/

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
It had a really slow start but it had an impact anyway. It was really intricate and there were a lot of different things going on at the same time. There was action and science and mystery. I really enjoyed the paranormal aspects as well as the steampunk gadgets and contraptions which were interesting but not overly complicated. My one problem is that it was predictable, I figured at the villain really quickly.

Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
This is kind of the let down of the book for me. It was really dense and verbose and while I liked that it fit the time period of the book, it made the plot feel dragged and slow and it took me longer to finish reading it than I would’ve liked. It was very detailed and intricate. There were a few POV’s as well with no real rhyme or reason but they were all interesting though.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I really enjoyed the majority of the characters. They were all different and special in their own way, in their abilities and in their part of the group they worn, a little itty bitty tiny bit like the X-Men but I felt like they could’ve been explored more than they were. The entire cast are main characters but the focus in this particular book is Finley who is very peculiar. She has very distinct sides to her personality. There’s moment when she’s really shy and sweet, more like a proper young lady of her time would be. And then there are other times when she is kick ass and fiesty and sometimes even a little bit dangerous. I found that really interesting and intriguing, the huge contrast in her personality was something unique to me. But I wish it could’ve been developed and explored a lot more before we saw a change in that aspect. As is usual in Young Adult books there are two main love interests for the main character. And they could not be more different when compared to each other. One of them is sweet and protective and very prim and proper. He’s your perpetual good guy who just wants the best for you but with a little spice in the form of a jealous streak which I found refreshing to his character trope. The other is the complete opposite, the kind of guy you go to when you want something illegal done. He’s mysterious and dark and dangerous but at the same time, protective and sweet to the main character. While he’s considered the bad guy in this situation, he does have redeeming qualities that I was intrigued by. This is probably one of the only books where I would have been okay with a long, drawn out love triangle but the author didn’t take advantage of that potential.

Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews1,014 followers
January 30, 2016
Another wonderful buddy read session with my pen friends. Thanks to Ileana for recommendation of this book.

The girl in the steel corset is a rather light funny read with headstrong nice characters. The world building and language were good and I did not have problems with understanding what goes where. Characters are the strongest plus of this book. They were all nice and each one had a story to tell. I only had issues with the abundance of strange technology, maybe less of this machines would make book a better read for me. Also, the pace of the book felt a little bit rushed at times. I can see some plot holes in there, but I know that the second book will be way better and it is enough for me to know that.

I can't say that I was impressed by this book nor was it original. But it was a solid read and has a great potential to be better in the next part. For the first book of the series this one was a fast paced read with nice characters and intriguing world building. Recommend to the fans of a strong kick ass female characters and steam punk lovers. If you haven't read steam punk yet, The girl in the steel corset is a good start for you.

Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,261 reviews8,752 followers
February 10, 2016
Steampunk isn't one of my favorite genres. In my experience, writers tend to over-embellish the tech aspect to the detriment of the plot. Not so Kady Cross and The Girl in the Steel Corset. There was of course a plethora of automatons and physical modifications--hey, it wouldn't be steampunk without them, but the plot was good. The characters were fun and the villains were nasty. I liked it ;)
Profile Image for Karina Halle.
Author 117 books16.5k followers
March 22, 2012
Now, I’m not the type of person to read books that I know I’ll dislike – frankly, though reading for yuks may be entertainment for some, I don’t have a lot of time to waste (but I will watch a million episodes of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 for yuks – go figure). I’m also always writing at any given time, and I don’t want my prose and choices influenced by shoddy material.

So, when I pick books, I pick books I think I will enjoy. I ignore the hype (one reason why I’m scared to read Angelfall) and just plunge in, hoping for the best.

The Girl in the Steel Corset was a book I knew nothing about but I found at the library and thought, hey let’s try it. It would be my first venture into steampunk too and the blub on the inside jacket sounded interesting enough.

In theory, the book is functional. The quality is not shoddy. Everything the blurb promised was more or less represented the book. The writing is good – I mean, acceptable. Nothing wooed me but the actual construction of it was inoffensive. Cross is a good writer and I wouldn't mind reading something else of hers. It just took FOR DAMN EVER to get to the bloody point. I have never in my life taken so long to read something, and I have never been so uninterested in the characters.

Now, halfway through my struggles I decided to snap up the novella, The Strange Case of Finley Jane, hoping it would make me more eager to continue reading the Steel Corset. It did, too! I liked the short, saucy novella and had a much better appreciation of Finley. But as I got back into the novel, my desire stagnated. Why the hell is this book so damn long? Why does it lack the charm of the shorter story?

Length is totally subjective, I know this. I’ve read my fair share of epic books that I read in a hurry because I cared about the characters, and the writing still had enough zip and pacing to bring me along.

The Girl in the Steel Corset lacks all of those things. I didn’t care about any of the characters (except for Jack Dandy and he was entirely underused), there were WAY too many descriptions of “flakey croissants that melted on her tongue” and “red, ripe strawberries” and ONE MILLION VATS OF COFFEE, DESCRIBED IN EVERY DETAIL. There were also a lot of descriptions of clothes, which I can appreciate the first time. But is it worth mentioning more or less the same outfit over and over and over again?

I swear I read, “Finley slipped on striped stockings, attached them to her red garter belt, put on her heeled, buckled boots, a short skirt and a corset over her blouse” at least a dozen times. And to that matter, if THAT is what “normal” folk wear everyday, WHAT THE HELL DO THE PROSTITUTES WEAR??!

So, having to muddle through this description, you think the book would take an exciting turn eventually. Uh, no. I think halfway through the book the antagonist is introduced. And a protagonist mentioned on the jacket blurb (I’m sorry, but I thought the cowboy would be in the whole book). And now you have more characters and a tiny bit of a plot going on, but you’re just so angry that you’re wasting your time, reading about people you don’t care about.

And the last thread of respect I had for aggro Finley was when ripped away when she gets beat up – on purpose – by one of the main characters, Sam – and her “love interest”, the boring Griffin, only seems mildly concerned. And when she fights back and nearly kills Sam, she’s suddenly all “Oh I feel so bad. Oh my Grifffin will never forgive me.” Shut the fuck up, girl. I wish she had killed Sam, his character is supposed to be tortured and misunderstood (I’m assuming that’s what Cross was going for) but I find him overly emo and intolerable and I keep picturing a giant, hulk-sized Prince Harry with a scowly face. Sure, he attempts to become likeable at the end, but too little, too late.

Anyway, this review is way more scathing than I thought it would be. I know lots of people love this book, but if I can’t connect to any of the characters, if I can’t feel an ounce of love or passion in a story, and feel like the whole novel is overrun by trends and gimmicky genre pieces, then I just…NO.

I give this book 2.5 stars. Unless the sequel - The Girl in the Clockwork Collar - starts getting rave (and I mean RAVE) reviews, I highly doubt I’ll be reading it, even if I do get that copy from the library. If getting through this book was such a chore, I don’t see how the next one would be any different. It would just be the same characters in a different setting and zzzzzzzzzzzz.

It’s not a bad or terrible book by any means and I mean no offense to Cross or to her fans or to the people who like it because, HEY, reviews are subjective. It just, quite obviously, did not work for me.
Profile Image for Ceilidh.
233 reviews577 followers
May 17, 2011
There’s been much talk amongst the blogosphere of a possible upcoming Steampunk craze in YA, in the wake of Cassandra Clare’s best-selling but incredibly mediocre foray into the genre. Kady Cross, the pseudonym for author Kathryn Smith, mentions in the acknowledgements for her book that she wanted to write a cross between “X Men” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” As a fan of both (I have a serious guilty pleasure love of the latter movie adaptation, even though I’m perfectly aware of how bad it is) I approached this with cautious optimism but, after a great opening chapter, found myself quickly bored.

The potential for greatness is definitely there but these promising elements are put together so clumsily and in such a derivative fashion. The love is always in the details, and such things are genre expectations for Steampunk – it’s not just about shoving in some cogs and corsets and calling it a Steampunk novel, you have to create the entire world in all its depth and intricacies. Unfortunately, this novel tries to throw in so much detail that basic elements of storytelling such as plotting and pacing suffer. There’s just so much stuff to be described and Cross does so frequently and it weighs down the pacing until its dead in the water. There’s so much technology on show, so many paragraphs on the intricacies of a piece of equipment that it quickly becomes exhausting, especially when the story seems to have disappeared. It’s such a shame because the story starts with an intriguing bang that promises much but doesn’t quite deliver. The world never really feels like a well constructed alternative Steampunk universe. Instead, it’s more like a Victorian set romantic mystery with some stuff thrown in. I did find a lot of the technology interesting but its place in the story felt forced and shoe-horned in, never organic to the proceedings. Like the story itself, much of this technology is told to us and not shown.

It’s also a disappointment to see how many of the YA paranormal tropes this book falls into. The love triangle, for unfortunately there is another one in a YA novel, is the typical series of events we’ve come to expect in this genre, with little development of the actual characters Finley is supposed to be so taken by. Finley herself was another example of squandered potential. Her genuinely interesting issues were plodded out in such a pedestrian manner that, like everything else in the story, I quickly became bored by her. The mystery that has much more interesting potential than the love triangle is sacrificed for the romance, although what little mystery we were given was a little too predictable. I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that this story wasn’t complete. I know it’s the first in a planned trilogy but on its own, “The Girl in the Steel Corset” felt half-done. I later found out that Cross had released an online prequel to the book which leaves me with mixed feelings I may have to address in a later blog post.

“The Girl in the Steel Corset” is another example of great potential sadly squandered, and not the Steampunk YA saviour one was hoping for. There are moments of excitement and interest amidst the plodding story and tedious pacing but it never really amounts to something worthwhile. The basic idea of the story is definitely one with possibilities, so I hope Cross can expand upon them and iron out the story’s weaknesses in the rest of the trilogy.

Profile Image for usagi ☆ミ.
1,198 reviews279 followers
October 16, 2011
This is a gorgeous, wonderful book. I just have to say that right up front. It has all that I look for in this genre (alternate history/steampunk) – mad scientists, detectives, general paranormal activity, feisty females, and a little (but not too much) romance. Oh, and did I mention it also features a primitive version of Skynet?

When you throw all of the above mentioned features together and put it into an accessible YA package, you have my heart for life. This is a great adventure and relief to read – I was afraid that it might be too stereotypically chick-lit in terms of the romance area (considering the publisher being Harlequin and all), but Cross writes it in so subtly that you’re halfway in before you figure out what’s going on between Finley and Griff. And that itself is a breath of fresh air when you consider anything with romance in the realm of YA, especially as of late.

All of these elements are hard to get right by themselves, much less when you throw them together and make a delicious soup like this one.

And then there’s the mystery element – who is the machinist? What are his objectives? Cross subtly builds up the tension between the romance and the appearances of Jack Dandy (Jack the Ripper), along with trying to keep Finley’s head (and soul) together yet balances all of these things with the talent of someone from Cirque du Soleil. And the primitive version of Skynet robots killing (or horribly maiming) people! I enjoyed all aspects of this book, and can find no faults at all with it. And coming from me? I guess that’s high praise, seeing how picky I am and all.

Aside from the novella that’s just been released, I really hope that this isn’t the last full-length book set in Cross’ finely constructed ‘verse. I’ll be reviewing the novella as well, but I’ll still be waiting for news on a second book. More like squirming in my seat like a five year old, but you get the idea.

Want some steampunk that’s empowering for girls? Pick up “The Girl in the Steel Corset”. Afterwards, you’ll want a steel corset of your very own.

(crossposted to shelfari, librarything, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)
Profile Image for Rayne.
862 reviews288 followers
July 26, 2012
This book had all the tools to be great: good writing, an awesome concept and great packaging, I mean, look at that cover! But despite an awesome first couple of pages, my interest in this book declined faster than the IQ of anyone who loved Twilight, or something even worse like the House of Night series. The start reeled me in with unexpected force but then, somewhere between the totally pointless and forced love triangle, the flat characters with stereotyped personalities, the constant repetition of descriptions (I think I got perfectly clear the first twenty times that Emily's hair is "ropey", that Sam was "huge" and that Finley's hair color is "like honey", among other things, thank you very much) and the technology overload just to get the point across that this is a steampunk novel, the book completely lost me. And I won't even go into how much telling-instead-of-showing the author did or how much it completely annoyed me that our "heroine" only felt attracted to men who could overpower her - that alone knocked off two stars from its rating.
I still don't think this is a terrible book, its just kind of bleh. There's room for improvement and I'll probably pick up the next one when I find it cheap.

Someday I'll make a more thorough review. Just don't hold your breath.
Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews159 followers
May 8, 2011
The Girl in the Steel Corset is an imaginative and impressive story. Historical, Victorian, Steampunk, automaton, magic and mystery are all the wonderful elements you'll find locked with in these pages.
Those who know me, know I've always had issues when it comes to historical and I don't think I've read very many books to even know how I feel about steampunk, but, I really enjoyed this book!

Kady Cross, sets this story with gorgeous flow. Not once did it feel dull or dry, which sadly is my issue when it comes to historical books, the pace was smooth and solid and it was easy to follow along with the characters and the plot line. I've always been a fan of the Victorian language and thought Cross delivered it very well. I also had a lot of fun learning about the automaton's and the mechanics of it all. It's a very fascinating element that I didn't even know that I enjoyed till now.

But my favorite part of this story was the amazing cast. I liked all the characters and thought they were all very well developed, animated in there own unique way and all extremely intriguing.
Our protag, Finley, is a fiery little thing, powerful, strong-willed, but the dance she endures within herself is a force to be reckoned with. Frighting and wonderful. Griffin is kind, generous and compassionate. He is equally powerful but he doesn't abuse that power. I admire is strength and control. Emily is a gentle and brilliant and I like how she holds herself. Proud and unshakable. Sam is probably the only character that I loved and hated at the same time. I can understand his hostility. Hating what he's become and the feeling of betrayal, but despite it all he's still grateful for it. Grateful. I think that's what I liked about each of them the most. They each have this thing that makes them different, less human, and while some have learned to except it they still loath it, but are just as grateful for it. That's quite the conflict, which makes this even more of an entertaining factor.

As much as I liked the storyline and the concept, there was one thing that sort of lacked, and that was I miss my dose of romance. See, I'm a sap in the biggest way a sap can be, and I need that healthy amount of romance in my reads. But, there were a few scenes that still made me smile so I hope that Cross will explore that in future books.
But other then that, I had a good time reading this book. The plot line and concept was creative and clever while the characters are all very fascinating and I loved the teamwork/togetherness chemistry they all give off one another. This is a very promising start to a bright series that I very much plan on continuing!
Great debut! Looking forward to more!

(Arc provided by Netgalley and Harlequin Teen)
Profile Image for Amanda.
252 reviews9 followers
May 9, 2011
★★★★☆ I loved it
Quick Summary: Finley has tried to ignore the darkness that takes over her body whenever she's mad. The problem is, it's getting stronger and her situations keep leading her toward people that deserve to see her other side. After a particularly bad experience followed by almost being killed, she finds herself with strangers who may just hold the answer to what's wrong with her. The more she learns about them, the clearer it becomes that not only do they hold the answers, but they also hold secrets about her past that she never thought was possible.

My Thoughts: The POV switches between Finley, a servant girl; Griffin King, the Duke of Graythorne; and Sam, a human-robot hybrid. Each is on their own journey to discover what makes them the way they are and the truth to their past. The Girl With The Steel Corset one of those books that grabs your attention from the first sentence. Straight up we're given a strange situation that makes you question whether the heroine is someone who deserves our sympathy or not. As it becomes clear that Finley really doesn't mean or understand her actions, we're taken into her world to discover who exactly she is. As she is basically split into two people, each side of her attracts a different man, each with attractive qualities and secrets. And if you're like me and Finley, it's a hard decision who to choose.

Final Opinion: It didn't take me long to decide I loved The Girl in the Steel Corset. The setting was equal parts mysterious and interesting as were the characters. One particular character, Jack Dandy, really grabbed my attention and I believe there'll be more of him in the future. The only thing that let TGITSC down was that is was clear what the villain, The Machinist, was up to and who he was. Other than that, I never wanted to close this book for any reason at all. I loved seeing the personal growth that each character went through from their own POV. It was also clear who was telling the story at each time, something authors can fail spectacularly at. Kady is very talented. If you are so inclined to read dystopian romance, make sure you add TGITSC to your list.

Favourite Quote:

"Don't mistake me, Treasure. I can offer you many things, but friendship ain't one of them. Now, for once in your life, be a sensible girl and run away."
(Jack to Finley, Chapter Five)

Cover: It strikes me more of an adult cover than young adult. I love it all the same though mostly because of the small details like the steel on the back of her dress, her jewellery and the clockwork on the wall that give it a real steampunk feel.

The Steampunk Chronicles

1. The Girl in the Steel Corset
2. Untitled
Profile Image for Softreflection.
199 reviews1 follower
September 30, 2012
This book was really not that good. Sure, the plot was an interesting idea and the characters were set to charm you, but that did not happen in my case.

The characters were nothing new in this situation. Main character is a girl who can protect herself in a sea of other fragile girls. Add on the two hot suitors, who not only do both pertain to a certain side of herself,(Dark, good) but she just can't decide which one she likes better.

Does this sounds familiar?

But, really, this could have been very good, had Kady Cross just squeezed out a bit more imagination into these characters. Though I have to admit, Jack Dandy was a bit oddly out of character.

He's supposed to be the bad guy, yet, he makes her breakfast, packs her stuff for her when shes going to leave, and gives her information even when shes rude to him?

Wheres the bad-assery here?


They have henchman or butlers to do that, it's that simple.

Kady Cross could not pull off the Dangerous-crime-boss-who-also-happens-to-be-a-gentlemen. It was just unreal, he just had too much emotion to play it off right. Jack Dandy was just a very lame attempt to be the sweet understanding gentlemen when he himself had a very different agenda for being nice. It did just not go with his character. It's like mixing water and oil, they don't mix.

I honestly liked her writing though, but it got to be just way too boring at times. She had a very loquacious way of describing things, but it go to be too much for me sometimes.

No, you do not need to describe the color of Finley's trousers and corsets to me. That's all she ever wears, I don't need to know more.

I liked this book, but not enough to give it more than three stars.

Actually, I wanted to like this book, I thought it would be different, but it just proved disappointing. But I liked it enough that I want to read the next book.

Honestly, I wouldn't read this unless I was highly bored and had no other book to comfort me. (Which was my case because i was too emotionally unbalanced to read the rest of
The Fault in Our Stars , because I knew I would be crying like a middle-schooler who just got dumped. I would probably be pigging out on ice cream and failing to not watch cheesy movies that will just make me cry more.)
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
3,009 reviews378 followers
October 3, 2011
What can I possible say about this book that will even come close to doing it justice other than it absolutely rocked? Well, how about that I think Kady Cross is pure genius.

I LOVED this book. I mean, I really truly loved reading it. It was my first full length steampunk novel and I can now say that I am completely in love with the genre thanks to Cross. So much so, that I am completely bummed her next book isn't out yet and I will be anxiously counting down the days until it is.

This book was just brilliant. The characters, the inventions, the storyline, the mystery, the romance, the adventure, the slight paranormal aspect, the world, the time period, the clothes....okay, I could truly go on and on.
It is rare that I find a book these days that completely blows me away and it not what I was expecting or anticipating and I have to say, I love it when that happens!
I will be honest, I read a LOT of books and it is so nice to just pick one up and get completely carried away in it so much so that you wish you were there. That you were apart of their world and that they were your friends too.

So Kady Cross, you have a new fan! I will definitely be reading all of your work in the future, I only regret that I didn't pick this up sooner.

Profile Image for Elise.
146 reviews6 followers
December 31, 2011
They say don’t judge a book by its cover. They were right.

I read this after reading the free short story The Strange Case of Finley Jane, and I enjoyed it. Not that I didn’t (somewhat) enjoy this, I was just disappointed.

First of all, it started out pretty boring. After reading the first few chapters it took me like three weeks to pick it up again. I didn’t want to give up on it, and it did get better as I read it, but still. Also, I wasn’t invested in a single character; they all felt flat to me. There were too many high-techy things being introduced, and it just felt like too much. Sometimes it seemed they didn’t even need to be mentioned, other than sounding “cool” and being SUPER convenient to the characters. I guess I should have just thought “sounds awesome!!”, but I didn’t. I need more.

Having said that..


The author has to be hella smart to come up with all of this and the cover of this book is beautiful.
Profile Image for Colleen Houck.
Author 40 books8,988 followers
July 3, 2011
The red dress on the cover is absolutely gorgeous! Now I know what steampunk is! Kady's created a really cool main character and I love the little beasties that heal. Oh also I want one of those velocycles (right word?) they were so cool. I look forward to the next book in the series. So creative!
Profile Image for Laura.
Author 2 books241 followers
April 5, 2011
I loved this story and look forward to reading more of Kady Cross in the future. I'm pretty stingy with my 5 star reviews, but this one totally deserves it. I adored Finley, Griffin, Emily, Sam, Jack Dandy and Jasper Renn! All these characters were amazing.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,395 reviews158 followers
May 19, 2012
Four Stars: This book is so much fun. Lots of steampunk, great characters and a mystery. 

Dread washes over Finley Jayne as the son of her employer leers toward in the darkened hall.  As a servant girl in the house, she is up late prepping a dress for her mistress.  On the way back to her room, She runs into the drunk Lionel.  He has one thing on his mind.  Unfortunately for him, he doesn't know that Finley isn't a timid maid. He strikes her cheek, drawing blood.  Finley's dark side awakens and strikes. In seconds he is pummeled and knocked unconscious.  Terrified, Finley flees the mansion knowing that she is in deep trouble.  She dashes out into the street so consumed by her fear that she doesn't see the velocycle rushing towards her.  The driver collides with the frightened maid and she blacks out.  Lord Griffin stands over the girl.  His instinct tells him that there is something different and important about this servant girl, lying battered and bleeding at his feet.  Against his best friend Sam's wishes, he decides to trust his gut and take the girl home.  When Finley Jayne wakes, it is quickly apparent that she is not a normal girl.  She is a young lady with two sides, one dark and one light.  Rage and fear awaken the dark beast inside her and she fights the servants.  Once she is calmed, Griffith finds himself drawn to this lovely girl with two halves.  Can Griffin help Finley Jayne control her personality, while he tries to stop the terrifying random machine attacks throughout London? 

What I Liked:
*I picked up this book last summer, drawn to the gorgeous cover (yes, I know shallow of me).  Why I let it languish so long in my reading pile is beyond me.  Perhaps I was afraid this was just another disappointing read behind a pretty cover.  Luckily, I was wrong.  This book was great fun.  It has mystery, steampunk, two awesome smart kickbutt girls and more.  I really enjoyed this book. 
*I am still new to the whole steampunk genre, but I can honestly say so far this has been my favorite.  Ms. Cross includes some fantastic steampunk elements.  My favorites were the steel corset and the robot cat.  These are just two of the many unique and clever steampunk contraptions in this book.  If you are fan of steampunk, I highly recommend you give this book a read.  I only wish that this novel had pictures of all this great stuff.  The steel corset sounds lovely with its intricate flowers and unique design.  Who says protective gear can't be fashionable? 
*Ms. Cross creates great characters.  Finley Jayne with her unique affliction is able to fight her way out of danger.  She can beat up almost anyone.  If you love strong female leads, Finley Jayne won't disappoint.  I really adored Emily, she is an intelligent Irish lass who is a skilled mechanic, inventor and even a medic.  I loved that both the female characters were smart, strong and very capable and that they possessed qualities that are usually associated with men.  The two gents, Sam and Griffin round out the group and they are fascinating, considering that they both have some interesting abilities and secrets as well.   
*This is a retelling of Jekyll and Hyde except with a twist.  This time the afflicted is a young girl, Finley, and she has no knowledge of the how or why she has a dual personality.  I had fun uncovering the secrets of her personality, as well as watching her battle her dark side.  I admit, I loved it when her dark side took control.  I completely enjoyed this new spin on an old classic.
*This book presents a plot with layers of subplots.  There is the focus on Finley and her condition, the conflict that Sam is waging with himself, the attacks by the machines, the solving of the murder mystery and the unmasking of the machinist.  I always appreciate books with layers of story lines and this book provides plenty of threads to follow. 
*Finally, I was thrilled that Ms. Cross provides a nice resolution while providing some interesting new ideas to follow up on in the sequel.  No cliffhanger! 
*For the record, I love the name Finley Jayne!
And The Not So Much:
*If you are looking for a good romance, this might be a disappointment.  There isn't a complete development of a romantic relationship.  Instead Ms. Cross teases us with potential sparks and promises.  She keeps you guessing as to whether or not Finley will fall for a certain gentleman or not.  On a side note, there is a tiny flame between two of the secondary characters, which I liked. 
*This book sort of tries to present a love triangle but it is not established.  Finley's dark side draws her to Jack Dandy, a criminal leader in the underworld.  I adored Jack.  There was something about this bad boy that just made me smile.  He is charming and believe it or not a gentleman, but one that must be handled carefully, he is a bad boy after all.  I loved the way he talked, especially his pet name for Finley which is "Treasure".  I wanted more of Mr. Dandy. 
*I was left with a couple of nagging questions.  One was who was the murderer of Finley's assailant?  Another sticking point was Jasper Renn.  He is an American Cowboy, but he remains a mystery.  He seems to have some unique abilities of his own that are never disclosed.  However, at the end of the book it was apparent that the sequel is going to focus on Jasper.  Hopefully, I will get the answers to my questions. 
*This novel is labeled as Young Adult.  I personally think that this book is beyond the YA label.  Not due to inappropriate content, but because it transcends the normal YA classifications.  The characters are mature and act like adults even though they are young and the plot itself is beyond the typical YA lines.  This is a book that can be enjoyed by adults as well as young adults.  Don't let the YA label deter you if you typically steer clear of YA books, this is a book that will appeal to fans of all ages. 

The Girl in the Steel Corset was a fast and thrilling read.  If you love steampunk, you will appreciate all the imaginative gadgets and gizmos as well as the references to corsets, gloves, hairpins and all the fashion that steampunk enthusiasts adore.  This book is more than a pretty cover and I enjoyed the fantastic multi layered story line.  If you have been considering this book, waste no more time, get it! I am glad that I have book two, The Girl in the Clockwork Collar to tear into next!

Favorite Quotations:

"An aura of danger clung to her like an oil slick.  Unfortunately, he couldn't tell if she was in danger, or if she was danger."

"Pencils were excellent for hairstyling.  They also made very effective weapons if the need arose."

"Watching his expression change was like watching thunderclouds suddenly blot out the entire sky."

"She had to be family because she and Griff had the same eyes---like a spring sky about to be taken over by storm clouds."

"She'll never be able to be part of something while she's two halves of a broken whole."

"I promise you I will be careful with my affections, but beyond that I can offer nothing else.  I cannot tell my heart what to feel."

"She's two personas struggling for dominance in one body."

"Although, Dandy could be very charming, and girls seemed to like the dangerous fellows---some foolish rot about reformed rakes making the best husbands."

"It was like someone lit a candle inside him, a small flickering flame that warmed him from inside out."
Orginally posted at http://rainydayramblings.typepad.com/
Profile Image for Shera (Book Whispers).
594 reviews288 followers
July 24, 2015
The Girl in the Steel Corset is everything I have been dying to find in a steampunk novel. The technology flavors the world perfectly and I love that there's so many different verities of fashion. This is a whole new reimagined world! One where 20 years prior an expedition lead by the Duke of Greythorne journeyed to the center of the earth. Discovery of the Cradle of Life, THE place were creation began. Strange things called The Organites where discovered. Tiny organisms that can mimic other things on a cellular level. While the general public is only aware of some ore that powers the technology from this expedition. Every thing else is kept hush, hush by order of the Queen.

So now we're 20 years later after these events. Where despite keeping everything a secret things are definitely happening. People are developing powers because of certain events and there's a villain out there, The Machinist, who wants to use The Organites for evil. It's all very shady with plots against the Queen and reimagining of Dr. Hyde and Mr. Jekyll.

There is a lot of technology here leading to a new and different world. Though I have a hard time believing that facial piercing, and multiple ones at that, would be acceptable for a Lady. That's a different kind of advancement. Even the pants seemed far out. Because there were still many rules a lady should follow that contradict those advancements in sexism. But hey that's me being nit picky.

Speaking of technology. There is a lot of it here. Finally a steampunk novel chocked full of it! I love the way the machines work and the description of the gears! However, there was some technology that made me pause. Some of it was sooooooooo advanced that it felt like it was out of a futuristic novel, not a steampunk. And if you don't know steampunk novels generally take place in the past. Some in the Victorian age mainly. So that took me out a bit. Hey, they've journeyed to the center of the world! They've discovered the Cradle of Life. Anything can happen.

GitSC has a wonderful cast of characters here. Griffin is a suave leader of his gang of misfits, as expected as the current Duke of Greythorne. He's a true hero and I love how it fits along with his humanity. Finley is his social opposite. The best part is she's a fighter and I love how tough she is. Even when she's trying to figure out who she is from circumstances outside of her control. You know there's a romance happening there. The best part is it isn't rushed. Cross is doing what I have missed. Building the romance and creating the romantic/sexual tension. Not to mention Jack Dandy a dark character well worth the swooning and a nice counter part to Griffin. Because there is a love triangle, but at least it’s done well. So it fits really good here. (No teenage melodrama. I dare say it’s realistic.)

The other cast of characters are amazing as well. They all stand out and I adore how dastardly gangsters or stupid muscle men eventually flesh out and become likeable characters. People make mistakes, but they learn. Griffin's band of misfits is like a family. The trust they've all earned is moving and I enjoyed watching Finley become part of it.

Overall I love all of the aspects presented. Some readers might find it a bit full. There's changing points of views, lots of steampunk technology, people developing powers, the other worldly Aether, historical references, fantastic character interactions, witty humor and dialogue, strange Organite things, and—basically a marvelously brilliant world! It's well developed and quite fantastic. Oh, and I've been saving the best for last. A female Hyde and Jekyll. Boom. Bet you were wondering when I'd bring it up again. The Girl in the Steel Corset was an unexpected treat! If you're new to steampunk or a connoisseur of the genre don't miss this one!

Sexual Content: All rather politely clean. There is sexual humor and some hints of more.

4/5- Great! Really enjoyed it.

Originally reviewed at Book Whispers.
Profile Image for Nicole D..
262 reviews
June 28, 2015
Finley Jayne isn't normal and can do things normal people can't. One night after being attacked by her employer and beating him up and knocking him out, she runs scared about what he might do to her when he wakes up. When she is making her escape she runs in front of a vehicle driven by Griffin King, Duke of Greythorne and she is knocked out. She wakes up at the Duke's house and finds out she is not the only abnormal one.

I loved Finley when I read about her in The Strange Case of Finley Jayne and I love her even more in The Girl with the Steel Corset. I love her stubbornness, independence, uniqueness, her standing up for the weak, how brave she is and many other things. Griffin is the leader of a group of people with special abilities like Finley's. I have a lot of respect for his character. To be in charge of all these secrets and having his parents killed when he was so young must be a great burden. Plus having his own special ability. Emily who handles all the technology is brilliant and kind. I am very intrigued by her character. I wonder what happened in her past to make her want to get away from her family. Sam is super strong but very troubled about what happened to him. I felt bad for Sam and what he had to go through. I understand his anger but you can't let it control you. There is a lot of tension with Emily, Griffin, and Sam because of what happened to him. Griffin's aunt was very freaky with her ability to get into people's heads and hope to see more of her in future books. I really loved Jack Dandy who is a master criminal and look forward to seeing more of him. I have a feeling he is more than what he seems. I loved the scene where Finley learned how she came to have these abilities. It was very emotional and heartbreaking. Finley's struggle to merge both parts of herself is fascinating to watch. Some books you just connect with the characters at hello and this is one of those books for me. Any books were the characters are different and outcasts speaks to me. Finley wanting to find a place to belong is a universally feeling that everyone will connect with.

This book has two romances going on. Finley/Griffin/Jack and Emily/Sam/Jasper. The Jack and Griffin love triangle is great. I think each guy represents each side of her personality. But I know in the Emily/Sam/Jasper love triangle that Emily only has eyes for Sam. But I hope Jasper finds a girlfriend in book 2 or 3 or 4. He is one of my fellow country man and a cowboy.

The author is doing an amazing job with world building. It is brilliant how she weaves history and fantasy together. I loved how all the little details about the clothes, titles, balls,being rich and how that and a title made you above wrong, how servants were treated in the period,ect... were woven so naturally into the story. I would love to have the amazing outfits described in the book. I loved how the author had all these machines that resembled things today.

The writing flowed and I read 200 pages in one sitting. Not even wanting to put down the book for dinner. I loved how this book was so action packed and fast-paced. I was on the edge of my seat almost the whole book. The only thing I didn't like about the book was I figured out who the bad guy was as soon as he walked onto the scene. I highly recommend this book to all who love great adventure, action, friendship, historical fantasy, characters that you can easily connect with, and great writing.

Rating: 5 out 5

Content Rating: PG-13
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