A Jekyll and Hyde Steampunk YA set in Victorian England, featuring a sixteen-year-old girl, who not only has one kick-ass persona, but two? Yes, please!
Kady Cross is firing on all cylinders in The Girl in the Steel Corset (and not just b/c the cover's gorgeous, and the title rocks). It's the story that stood out for me. The unique twist she put on the Jekyll and Hyde concept just blew my mind. In the acknowledgements section, Cross said she wanted to write "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets teen X-Men," and she more than succeeded. I've loved X-Men since I was a kid (FYI: Rogue is the ultimate! She was always my favorite J), and part of the reason was that the back stories for each character were so well thought out and completely developed. The characters in Cross's book were wonderful: Finley the girl with two faces, one wild and wicked, the other a little too good; Griffin the leader of the pack with a vendetta to repay; Sam the strong man whose strength failed him at a critical moment and left him (in his eyes) less than human; Emily the sweet genius who couldn't let her one true love die, no matter how much he'd hate her afterward. As I said, for me, it's all about making the characters real, giving them a past and seeing how it affects the here and now.
And speaking of characters with a past, can we talk about Jack Dandy for a sec??
I'm not going to lie. After the first chapter (which featured Finley, who I loved and worried about throughout), I had a hard time sticking with it. The prose was a little much for me, a bit too wordy. But then Jack stepped onto the scene, and I couldn't read fast enough. J You know how sometimes there's that one character that you just cannot wait to see again? The one that has you searching for the next time he/she appears, the one that drives the story simply by being in the room?
Well, that's what Jack was for me. He was just so deliciously bad (in the best way possible). His in-and-out cockney, his seedy digs, his horrible reputation. Dandy was the baddest of the bad, the one man you never wanted to cross--and Finley goes out looking for him. I really love characters who are threatening yet appealing in some indefinable way. Don't get me wrong, Dandy was a bad, bad man, and I knew it all along. I never once doubted that. But he was always there for Finley, and Cross left the door open for one heck of a love triangle.
Even if I didn't love Finley so much, I'd read the next book just to get a little more Jack.
The plot was good: Bad guy (aka The Machinist) is somehow making automatons commit crimes. It's up to Griffin and his crew to solve the mystery of how and who's doing it before more people get hurt/killed. And like I said, I thought the concept of a sixteen-year-old female Jekyll and Hyde character was very unique.
But that description--"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets teen X-Men"--would've gotten me to read it no matter what. Jack Dandy, though, was what (or should I say who?) kept me turning the pages. I'd recommend it to any X-Men fan and any reader who loves themselves a little wickedness in their heroes and heroines J
Happy reading all,