(Add half star to my rating…Goodreads, my suggestion – we need half stars please!)
GENRE: Young Adult – Paranormal/Fantasy/Steampunk
FORM: eBook – Nook
SERIES: The Steampunk Chronicles #1
SYNOPSIS: Finley Jane, living in England late 1800’s, seems to have a split personality. One side of her is a sweet, gentle, kind-hearted girl despite her pension for sarcasm, the other side is much darker and thrives on confrontation and is prone to egg on anyone who wishes to challenge her or gets her mad. It is this other side that, she believes, is responsible for her heightened sense of sight, smell, hearing, agility, and strength; combined with fast healing abilities, Finley Jane is a force to be reckoned with. She meets up with Lord Griffin King, and his group of friends, all of whom seem to have special ‘talents’ of their own. Together, they will investigate a series of machine mishaps, believed to be caused by someone who calls himself “the Machinist,” and also discover a few of the what’s and why’s of their abilities.
REVIEW: I was really psyching myself up for this book. It had popped up all over the review blogs, and Goodreads and other discussions. The more I saw it, the more drawn to it I was. Of course the beautiful cover didn’t hurt any. I had never heard of “Steampunk” until this book started popping up, and even now I’m not completely sure what it is, exactly. I do know that, while this book is set in the late 1800’s, Steampunk seems to a popular thing right now, (I just heard of a “steampunk’ed themed bridal shower.”) Someone is going to need to educate me, I think. Of course, I could always just google.
Anyhow, so I’m all excited to get this book, and I am going to say that now that I’ve read it, I think I psyched it up a little too much in my mind. There really were parts that I loved, and parts that I didn’t love so much. So, I’m going to just jump into that portion of my review template, and they will be a bit longer than normal…
WHAT I LOVED: Lets see…the setting. Victorian era, London…the perfect mix of beautiful and sludge. I really enjoy novels set in this time-frame. In this case, it was nice not to be a reading about a debutant in a Victorian parade of lace and tradition. I liked seeing a bit of the underbelly; people who are not necessarily a part of all the pomp and circumstance, but stand outside of it.
I also loved the characters themselves. Finley Jane has a slightly vindictive, sarcastic side that I love to read in books. That kind of attitude never seems to stop making me smile. Of course, it’s not so nice when it’s not coming out of a demon hunter; or, as in this case, out of a girl trying to protect her virtue. She is also just one of those female leads I love to read about; beautiful butt-kicker! Griffin was a well put together young man; he seemed to know exactly how to take advantage of his power and money. It was extremely convenient to write him as a rich young ruler (of sorts) with no real parental guidance. It makes doing whatever, whenever so much easier, right? Then there is the true “underbelly” character of the book, Jack Dandy. Good guy? Bad guy? Will we ever really find out?
I also really, really enjoyed the action/fighting scenes. They were just about perfect.
Okay, now comes the harder part.
NOT SO MUCH: Let’s see…I had a really hard time merging the modern technology with the Victorian setting. I understand this is at the cusp of invention, and of course the entire “FICTION” portion of this Fantasy book…but there was just so much. It was too much, too convenient, too easy.
I also felt, while I loved the characters individually, they didn’t fit together very well. I didn’t feel any real connection between them. We have (KIND OF) two love triangles going on in this book (which I also think is too much), but I could care less who ends up with whom. I have no opinion. I felt no heat, no real attraction. Some kind of connection was missing. The perfect place for some heat between characters would have been the tattoo scene. What about a light touch of his hand caressing her back. His breath on her neck raising goose bumps. It was like the perfect set-up – and when the scene was over I wanted to scream: “YOU MISSED IT!!!! Opportunity over.” It felt like there was so much time spent on including the “new” technology and machines, and on describing what the characters were wearing, that we missed out on some other important parts of what makes a really good book. I think finding a harmony here is what is needed. It was neat; the way they dressed, that they had special abilities, they had cool, new technology – but you don’t need to stop and beat the point in with a stick. The book needs to flow into relationships and the story itself. Maybe I’m trying to say, it felt a little bit disjointed.
I sort of hinted at this a little bit above, but I felt like the story was also drawling off of a very popular Cassandra Clare series…one that involves strong, sarcastic teenagers; fighters with abilities, tattoos, and machines, set in the Victorian era?!? Unfortunately, the two books make an unfair comparison. If this is the aim for the Steampunk Series, then as I have been saying; step it up on some of the character interactions. We need to see some more jealousy and tension, if there are to be love triangles. Random acts of passion. (A nice backing up against the wall scene is always nice). More sarcasm, less gloating about our particular skills. Keep the outfits, just dedicate less time to each of their descriptions.
OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:
Coming in 2012: The Girl in the Clockwork Collar