publisher: Harlequin Teen
release date: May 24th, 2011
hardcover, 480 pages
intended audience: Young adult
source: from publisher for honest review
description: 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.
Review: Here's how this one went for me: The first 150 pages---amazing stuff. We meet Finlay in a sticky situation, she is a servant girl in the August-Raynes house, notorious because the masters son has a habit of making unwanted advances on the prettier servants. Finlay, who hasn't quite figured out why she has an uncontrollable dark side that likes to come out and play when she is threatened, quickly "puts him in his place" (in other words, she beats him within an inch of his life) and flees. I liked her immediately. :) In fleeing, she runs into (literally) one of the richest (and sweetest, and most humble---yes, we like him!) men in England, the Duke of Greythorne. Griffin is no ordinary man, and he houses an little band of unusually gifted characters. I loved Emily, she was sweet but tough, almost motherly, and absolutely brilliant. Sam is a dark character, very angry---but more than once he brought some good logic to the table. Jasper was a charmer...as most good cowboys are. The story was intriguing and moved along perfectly for the first 150 pages.
The last 100 pages: Fantastic! Exciting, action-packed, the mystery is somewhat solved, our hero's are victorious, and it was very satisfying while still reeling the reader in enough to pick up the second book.
Everything in between: I don't know what happened, but in between the amazing beginning and the fantastic ending...for about 200 pages, I frequently put the book down with very little intention of picking it back up. It just didn't hold my interest. Once they discovered the secret behind Finlay's abilities, there was a lot of floundering around for clues to finding The Machinist, Finlay being indecisive about where she belonged, some awkward fight/training scenes, but not a lot moving the story along.
The plot was good, but one of the main plot lines was a little too familiar to me. In trying not to spoil anything, I won't go into specifics, but the Queen Victoria storyline was very similar to an older Disney movie that most people might not have even heard of, but one that is very well-loved in our house. So eerily similar, in fact, that if I told the name of the movie, the readers who have seen the movie would know most of the ending of this book. Purely coincidental, I'm sure, but I admit it took away some of my enjoyment.
While I just barely made it to the end on this one, I am very glad I did because like I said, I really enjoyed the delivery of the ending. I also really like how the Steampunk aspect was written. With other "steampunk" books I've read, the machinery is so vividly described that it gets overwhelming and leaves no room for the reader to build their own picture. The automatons, the machinery, the Aether, and Emily's cool inventions like the velocycles and her robotic cat were all perfectly described while still leaving room for the reader's imagination. I really loved that.
It wasn't as wonderful as I'd hoped it would be, but it certainly wasn't so awful that I won't at least give the follow-up books a try. I liked the characters enough to be curious where their next adventure will take them.
Visit Kady Cross's website here.