Friday, June 24, 2011

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

What You Need to Know:  The steampunk superhero conceit will draw in readers, but the excessive length, meandering plot and predictability of this book will turn off all but the most determined.

Summary:  Finley, a servant girl in "reduced circumstances" fears the angry thing inside of her.  When, upon being attacked, the thing causes her to harm the young lord of her household, she runs into the night.  As fate would have it, she runs directly into Griffin King, a young nobleman with exceptional abilities of his own.  Griffin is the head of a group of gifted young people who serve the English crown.  The energy that feeds the automatons was discovered by Griffin's parents, but now, the automatons are beginning to turn on their masters.  However, the criminal known only as the Machinist has other plans, for Griffin and his group...

What Worked:  The idea of a team of teenage, steampunk superheroes is a good one.  The Jekyll and Hyde nature of Finely's abilities is not the most original idea ever, but a Victorian girl learning to harness her darker nature is intriguing.

Emily, the genius inventor of Griffin's crew, is a great character.  Spunky, bright, brave and loyal, she is by far the most interesting thing about this book.

What Didn't:  Dear goddess, this book is long.   So very long, particularly for a book that could be described as The League of Extraordinary X-Men the First Class.

Cross switches between viewpoint characters frequently, which would be interesting if her characters had more depth.  Each of the members of the team came right out of central casting -- angry young man, confused girl, handsome rogue.  I admit to being charmed by Emily -- Spunky Girl Inventor -- but even she has been done a thousand times before.  Stock characters could be forgiven, if the plot of the book was less predictable.  Any reader with a basic understanding of superhero comics or Victorian mysteries will see where this book is headed, even as it takes its own sweet time about getting there.

Who Would I Give This Book To:   Fans of the steampunk genre will probably want to give this one a look, and it would be an interesting diversion for superhero fans.

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