Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Steampunk Chronicles #2) by Kady Cross

Release date: May 22, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through NetGalley
Pages: 416
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
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.
I've recently found myself more and more entranced by the world of steampunk. The mixture of old world values and customs with more modern inventions and thought make for the most fascinating stories. Kady Cross has definitely written two of the better steampunk entries into young adult fiction, with The Girl in the Steel Corset and The Girl in the Clockwork Collar. Her engaging characters and fast-paced plots make for fun and thrilling reads, and I count myself amongst her fans.

In The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, we pick up where we left off in the previous entry. Jasper has been hauled to New York under the accusation of murder. Finley, Griffin, Emily, and Sam follow, hoping to help their friend. Upon their arrival, they find it isn't the authorities that have taken Jasper, but a criminal whom Jasper has wronged. In order to save a former love, Jasper must assemble a terrible device for the man, all the while trying to prevent him using it to terrible ends. With the help of Finley and company, Jasper may just succeed.

One of the greatest things about steampunk, in my opinion, is surely the presence of automatons and fancy devices. We are not lacking in that department in The Girl in the Clockwork Collar. Between Emily and Tesla, the automated fun abounds! The extra part I love in Kady Cross' books is the inclusion of the Aether, giving everything an almost magical vibe, rather than purely technical. Slowly, we're learning just what the Aether is and starting to understand it. I especially enjoy that while it is otherwordly, there is a rather scientific idea along with it, though it cannot completely explain its properties. Fascinating stuff.

A highlight of these books, specifically, is the characters. Each and every one is interesting and outstanding in their own way. Finley is utterly familiar in her struggle between her two identities. She desperately wants to be good like those around her, but can't seem to resist the thrill of being bad. She wonders if she is bad like the criminals, or if she can be the better person. Griffin wants to trust Finley, but has to decide if he's willing to risk pain should she turn out to be worse than he hopes. The romance between these two is turned up quite a bit in this installment, and I couldn't get enough of it. Their relationship is one of firm grounding, and I can't wait to see it progress in the third book. We also see Sam and Emily ramping up their relationship, if only by their meaningful glances and touches. Jasper was a bit of a question in The Girl in the Steel Corset, simply because we didn't see much of him. With this book, though, we see what an upstanding and caring person he is, especially through his burgeoning friendship with Finley. We root for him to save his love and prevent the bad guy from winning. I can't wait for more of him to come.

Dalton was an interesting villain for this book. After the Machinist in The Girl in the Steel Corset, Dalton originally seemed to be a bit of a downgrade in the villain arsenal. I thought he was a replacement Jack Dandy--bad guy on paper, but ultimately looking out for himself; not bad to be bad. He looked to just be a token bad guy wanting to amass money and mess with the authorities. While his motives were not the grandest I've ever seen, he was amazingly cunning and seemed to always be two steps ahead of our heroes. He definitely outshone my expectations and I enjoyed reading about him.

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar is a ridiculously amusing and exciting read, whether you like steampunk or not. The characters and quick plot will worm their way into your mind and, before you realize it, be gone.

Risk a paper cut? What do you have to worry? Emily's Organites will fix that in a jiffy!

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