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.
First Look: ***** I'm not a fan of the cover. There, I said it. I don't like it. The dress is pretty, but she could at least bother to close it up at the back. Anyway, though, the plot looked utterly fantastic, and I'm a huge fan of steampunk. So I got my hands on this.
Setting: ***** Here's a little secret: I have this deep inner longing to live in a steampunk world. There, now it's out in the open. I'll build a time machine (which can also access alternate histories, of course) and I'll alternate between ancient Greece, medieval Europe, and steampunk London. There's just so much to love about this particular steampunk version of London. It's very cool. We've got monarchies and dukes and just London in general and then...automatons! And...dirigibles? It was a very believable world, and I really could immerse myself in it. The Organites thing was also very awesome. And I also liked the...okay, I'll stop gushing about how much I love it.
Characters: ***** To start off, Finley Jayne is just a cool name. I like it. I liked her as a protagonist, too. The struggles between her "good side" and "darker side" were very interesting, and believable. She reacted to it as any real person might, and I think a little of her inner confusion might possibly be seeping into the narrative (which is a good thing). Adds to the realism.
Griffin, Sam, Emily, and the other supporting characters were just as real and likable, if not more. I really like what Kady Cross did with Sam, with the idea of him being part machine. Jasper just kind of made me smile, because he had such an amusing personality, and 'cause he's the only American in the story. And now, with that ending, I really, really, really want to know what he did. Argh.... *glares at nonexistent release date for sequel*
Plot: ***** It was exciting! The conflicts between characters seemed, again, very real. There was plenty of action (automaton fight scenes, at that) to keep me happy, plus a decently evil villain to mess everything up. And a set of intriguing mysteries.
I do have two complaints about the plot, though. 1)I made the connection between this mysterious bad guy and his actual identity as soon as he was introduced, where the characters didn't figure it out until near the end of the story. And I also guess what was going on with the stolen wax figure immediately, too. 2) A love triangle? Really? Frankly, it wasn't that bad, but still. I'm just sick and tired of love triangles. It wasn't all "Oh my, I'm in love with two perfectly perfect guys at once, oh the horror. *sighs like Juliet and tosses flower petals across a balcony*", but it could've been better. Eona, anyone?*
Uniqueness: ***** This was a fresh, unique read that, for once, doesn't rip off any other book. It doesn't try to be something it's not. And I appreciate that.
Writing: ***** The writing is, sadly, my only major complaint with this book. I found no typos or grammar errors (which doesn't mean they aren't there, but I usually have an eye for those things), but there were still a lot of sentences that bothered me. I noticed quite a bit of passive voice. Many sentences, while still grammatically correct, dragged on longer than they needed to. Same with commas: some places could've used a comma, but it wasn't there and threw me off for a second.
Likes: The entire setting. The concept. Griff and Emily. The automatons. And more.
Not-so-great: The part with Griff's parents just made my mind scream "It's like Harry looking into the Mirror of Erised!". And the writing. And the predictability.
Total Score: Finally, a decent steampunk book! While the writing could've been better, and the plot was a tad predictable, this is still an enjoyable book. It captured my attention throughout the entire thing, and the setting was just plain cool. Plus, there's also a mystery, and lots of automatons. Fans of steampunk, or just fantasy and sci-fi would enjoy this. And with that sort of cliffhanger ending, I need the sequel to come out. Right now.