the girl in the clockwork collar

Steampunk and young adult books go together like milk and cookies.  Or maybe I should say, like gears and grease?  Steampunk is often about the possibilities of science and imagination – what the future and past can dream up together.  And young adult is about coming of age, examining what it means to be fully human, and how we adjust to that reality.  Steampunk YA is a framework with the addition of an inner focus.  The melded genre often makes for extremely engaging stories.  I thought Kady Cross’ opener The Girl in the Steel Corset was a fun, dizzy ride into that world, so picking up the sequel was a no-brainer.

the girl in the clockwork collar by kady cross book coverWhat happens when someone you love becomes a weapon to use against you…

In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling — or dangerous.

Sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne and her “straynge band of mysfits” have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper, hauled off by bounty hunters. But Jasper is in the clutches of a devious former friend demanding a trade—the dangerous device Jasper stole from him…for the life of the girl Jasper loves.

One false move from Jasper and the strange clockwork collar around Mei’s neck tightens. And tightens.

From the rough streets of lower Manhattan to elegant Fifth Avenue, the motley crew of teens with supernatural abilities is on Jasper’s elusive trail. And they’re about to discover how far they’ll go for friendship.

More than ever, Finley Jayne will rely on powerful English duke Griffin King to balance her dark magic with her good side. Yet Griffin is at war with himself over his secret attraction to Finley…and will risk his life and reputation to save her. Sam, more machine than man, finds his moody heart tested by Irish lass Emily—whose own special abilities are no match for the darkness she discovers on the streets.

Now, to help those she’s come to care for so deeply, Finley Jayne must infiltrate a criminal gang. Only problem is, she might like the dark side a little too much…

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar opens with the ragtag band of teenagers from London (including the not-so-ragtag Duke of Greythorne) headed to New York City to rescue their friend Jasper Renn.  Unfortunately, Renn was a bit of a non-entity in the first book, so the impetus and loyalty of the group was never fully fleshed out.  I get why they’d go after their friend – I had just forgotten he even existed because he was not a major focus (and because I have a terrible memory, apparently).  Some friend, eh?

What follows when they arrive in New York is about what you’d expect: unknown and shifting emotions, intense action, some life-threatening situations, a crazy inventor and machines and talents that are far beyond the ordinary.  Oh, did I mention the fighting?  And pretty dresses.  Also: corsets, the mysterious collar, sinister messages and gangs.  In case you couldn’t tell, The Girl in the Clockwork Collar was a bit chaotic, fun, and heart-stopping in brief snatches.

What I liked: the continued kick-it attitude of main character Finley Jayne.  This girl is a force of nature, and she not only knows it, she’s proud of it.  Part of that pride means getting her friends to acknowledge and accept her just the way she is, and she definitely makes progress on that throughout the book.  Also high notes: the Five Points fighting bout, Wildcat, and the last 15 pages of the book.

What I found tedious: straight telling (as opposed to showing) of the ‘past’ between Jasper Renn and Mei Xing.  Nikola Tesla’s eccentricities, machines, and their dangerous applications, for another.  The repetition of silly things – in the last book it was blushing, in this book it was how easily Finley could snap a neck.  And striped stockings.  But the biggest pet peeve?  The absence of Jack Dandy.  He was a bit of all right in the last book, and I can’t wait to get him back on stage in the next adventure.

Cross has continued the series much as she began it: with stellar action and patchy suspense, but enough good fun to keep things moving along, and with developing trust, alliances, and an unexpected gem or two of a character to spice things up.  I’ll continue to tune in to this series for more steampunk-y goodness.

Recommended for: fans of action-packed young adult lit, those curious about steampunk and its appeal, and anyone in the mood for thrilling fights and adventure on the streets of an alternate New York populated with strange machines and treacherous men.

Fine print: I received an e-ARC of this book for review from Harlequin via NetGalley. And I didn't read it in time, so I bought myself a copy. Ah well.

4 comments:

Liviania said...

I really need to read the first book in this series so that I can read this one. Don't know why I haven't yet.

Cecelia said...

Liviania: I hope you'll find that it's unputdownable! I did... but I think part of that was the fact that the action never stops and it's 'easy' reading. And once you've read one, you'll want to know more... (at least, I did!)

Lauren said...

I'm in the middle of this one right now, and I'm really liking it so far. It's fun to see the gang back in action and in NYC this time. But I have to agree with your Jack Dandy comment, it's definitely missing something by not having him as a major character. Though, I did love the scene where he sent her flowers. Great review! :)

Ginny Larsen said...

nice, sounds like a solid read :D

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