Hurrah – another YA steampunk book I liked! As research for the Queen of England sequel I’m currently working on
and getting practically nowhere because of work, I ran into a string of very technical mysteries I couldn’t get through, so I was happy to find a new series with a lot of elements that I enjoyed. Drawing heavily from gothic elements, the protagonist Finley Jayne (unfortunately, the name is sort of urk for me, but I do like the character) battles with a bit of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality disorder. Given this role is traditionally male, I liked how Ms. Cross changed it up, not to mention have a young lady who is physically tough is great to see. Finley (still urk and not at all in a Victorian naming convention) is also a decent representation of being a teenage girl (what with hormones and all).
As I’m aiming for a diverse supporting cast, I liked each of the members in Finley’s adopted family. While not as robust as Ms. Carriger’s cast, there is still a lot of good going on in ‘Corset.’ As for love interests, this book made me realize my own lack of structure and development. While our leads (Griffin and Finley) seem to be headed towards an end game with each other, the other member of the second love triangle (yes, there are two – let’s not get into the Mary Sue elements that presents) is someone I’d be happy to take home. Jack Dandy adds a much appreciated ‘bit of the rough’ (think Captain Hook from OUAT) which is a nice opposite against clean cut Griffin. While I have characters that weren’t brought up polite society, I have yet to really capture their unique voices, so it was good to see Jack done quite well. Additionally, my love triangle is kind of a weird piece of geometry, mostly because my young Queen is a bit more interested in her country than she is in dudes
(and potentially another young lady).
Finally, I was surprised the first couple of reviews on Goodreads really chewed this novel up. I’m not sure YA fiction deserves this level of animosity, however, there are a lot of great notes as the novel relates to being both young adult and steampunk. If I am going to market my novels in this genre, my work is definitely cut out for me. While I thought Ms. Cross did a decent job world building and putting her own twist on ‘steampunk,’ many of the reviews would have you believe otherwise – worth revisiting once I finally get around to editing.
I’ve downloaded the next book in the series and am very curious at how it turns out (reviews on Amazon seem decidedly mixed).