Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review: The Girl with the Iron Touch

In 1897 London, something not quite human is about to awaken 

When mechanical genius Emily is kidnapped by rogue automatons, Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What's left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons—or forfeit her friends' lives. 

With Griffin being mysteriously tormented by the Aether, the young duke's sanity is close to the breaking point. Seeking help, Finley turns to Jack Dandy, but trusting the master criminal is as dangerous as controlling her dark side. When Jack kisses her, Finley must finally confront her true feelings for him...and for Griffin. 

Meanwhile, Sam is searching everywhere for Emily, from Whitechapel's desolate alleyways to Mayfair's elegant mansions. He would walk into hell for her, but the choice she must make will test them more than they could imagine. 
To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist's ultimate creation—an automaton more human than machine. And if she's to have any chance at triumphing, she must summon a strength even she doesn't know she has . . .   Quoted from Goodreads


Well, this is another excellent installment in the Steampunk Chronicles.  Note, this is not a trilogy, so though this is the third book, this isn't the last in the series like I thought.  I'm okay with that.  It's a fun series with interesting characters. Plus I don't have a lot of other steampunk series I'm in the middle of right now, so this adds some variety.

Basically this book was pretty much on par with the first two.  All the old characters are back (including their old nemesis and the delightful Jack Dandy) and some new ones---one in particular I'm intrigued by, though she also . . . well, I can't really say for spoilers, but it's pretty obvious from the beginning why she was brought into the story.  Once again something sinister is happening. This time, the main plot is Emily's kidnapping, though there are the secrets Griffin is keeping, to add another layer of intrigue.  It also helps keeps Finley as the main character, since Emily and Sam take center stage this time around.

What I enjoyed most about this book is how much happened in just a few days.  It kept every moment vital, from the strange, albeit exciting opener, through the real meat of the story, and on to the slightly ominous conclusion.  The action kept me turning pages, and while the multiple viewpoints didn't allow for a lot of mystery, it still kept things tense.

The nice thing about the steampunk genre is that I can excuse so many things that I couldn't in straight historical fiction.  For example, Finley and Emily are far more modern than most women back then, but it works because it's steampunk.  I'm not cringing like I do in other books when they do something I don't think they would do in the time period because everything is different.  All the main characters have special abilities.  The Aether is half magic, half science, which helps explain all the differences, and it totally works.  It's a fun believable world Kady Cross has created.

The romance gets pretty tied up in this one.  I mean if we're going for Victorian standards, I guess we're still waiting for the marriage proposal, but Emily and Sam finally declare their love for each other, and Finley convinces Griffin that she's not half in love with Jack Dandy.  Like I said before, while I still think of Finley as the main character despite the multiple viewpoints, I really thing Emily and Sam stole the show in this book.  Their romance was sweeter, in my opinion. Finley and Griffin's was more dramatic, to be sure, but it seemed over emphasized compared to the last two books, almost to give both of them more page time, instead of regulating them to the secondary characters they were this time around.  Still, I'm happy to finally see them officially together.

All in all, this is a fun continuation of the series.  If you haven't read the first ones, you should give them a try. While this isn't the last one, it mostly wraps things up, so you can survive until the next installment. for me it's an enjoyable 3.5 stars.  It was a fun, slightly different adventure from most YA (though it still contains some of the standard tropes), and I'm glad it didn't end with this book.

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