Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Book Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

Title: The Girl in the Steel Corset (first book in The Steampunk Chronicles)
Author: Kady Cross
Year Published: 2011
Genre: Historical fiction, Science fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

The concept here is essentially steampunk teen X-Men, with a side of Final Fantasy-esque costumes and girly wish fulfilment (Masquerade Ball! Hot Dudes! Fighting Heroine! Love Triangles!). My thirteen-year-old self would have exploded in excitement over something like this, but now that I'm old and jaded, I can't muster up the same enthusiasm. Sorry about that.

The story starts when Finley, a girl with a violent alter ego, runs away and joins a bunch of young people with superpowers – one of whom, of course, is very handsome and very rich. Together, they investigate the crimes of the Machinist, a villain who uses robots to commit nefarious deeds.

Though it's set in an alternate Victorian period, the novel doesn't read like a historical at all. The writing is more neutral or contemporary, which makes it easy to read, and it is the narration that clues us in to the social etiquette of the times. This decision is particularly understandable when you consider how the clothing and technology described take the story away from historical fact and into the realm of fantasy. Personally, I would have liked a bit more of a historical
feel to the prose, but as written the language is very accessible to younger teens.

The novel was a lot more plot-driven and action-packed than I expected it to be, which was a surprise. To be honest, I expected more introspection and whatnot, but there were plenty of fight scenes and lots of stuff actually happened. Less
Twilight, more Vampire Diaries – but with an added bonus of an action girl for a heroine.

The book itself is like fairy floss or popcorn: fun, addictive and fluffy.
It's a girly action movie in book form, enjoyable but without too much depth. Like many action movies, the plot is rather predictable and it isn't particularly original either; I would say it's more of a mish-mash of various beloved tropes and concepts than an entirely new creation. Only very few things did not make logical sense to pedantic ol' me but it's fine if you don't think about it and just let yourself get carried along for the ride.

Also, though the plot is resolved by the book's end, the last pages comprise a cliffhanger for the sequel, which I know can be annoying for some people.

The book is great if you're after something girly and easy to read that's neither dull nor silly. Best enjoyed if you don't expect too much and just sit back and enjoy the fantasy.

Alex's Rating: 3.5/5

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