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 (The Steampunk Chronicles, Book 2)Featured
I enjoy reading about this group of characters so much, and I did not want the story to end (which it doesn't, there will be another book). Finley is such a strong female character and a great role model for girls. She is head strong, tough (literally she can beat up anybody!), loyal to her friends, and even when she thinks the darkness might be taking over, she is more good than she realizes. Emily is still witty, loyal and as always, incredibly smart. My favorite has to be Griffin though. I love what a gentleman he is, but he drives me crazy because he won't tell Finley how he feels (still!). Kady Cross does an excellent job of bringing her world and characters to life. I said it with the first book, and I'll say it again; Steampunk finally makes sense to me!
I liked the new setting. Bringing the group from England over to New York really worked in this book. I loved how New York was set up ala 'Gangs of New York' with fights, the Irish, and swanky get-to-gethers to boot! The romance is still there, and dare I say even some new romance.
If you loved the first book (or even if you just love Steampunk), go get this book/series today! I cannot recommend it enough. And I will patiently wait for the 3rd book to come out. That's a lie, I will not wait patiently. Thank you Kady Cross, for such an amazing series!
This book didn't really have much connection to the last plot wise, but the characters are the same, as well as the amazing world-building. This meant that it was hard to guess what was going to happen, which I like, but it means that there wouldn't of been a dramatic ending or cliffhanger. As well as the last book, this book has left me questioning what is going to happen, as there is no obvious clue. This has got me excited to find out happens, and leaves me wanting to the next desperately.
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar goes into romance more than last, as we meet Jasper's previous loves and lives, Sam and Emily become closer, and something starts to happen between Griffin and Finely, which leaves me wanting so much more. I want to get my hands on the next book, just so I can find out what happens between them all.
I love how we get to explore outside of London in this book. Sometimes in other books, we get stuck in one place and get bored, but just so happens we travel to a different country book. This means that Kady Cross has to create a whole new place, and she did it just as well as the last, fanatically. I love the new character we get to meet, like the Irish Gang Members, new criminal masterminds and members of Jasper's past.
All in all, The Girl in the Clockwork Collar is another great edition to the Steampunk Chronicles, and leaves me literally drooling for the next book.
In this book, Griffin, Finley and co. travel to America on a rescue/reconnaissance mission that started at the end of the first novel of the series. Finley Jayne flirts with her dark side as she infiltrates an American criminal’s New York-based gang to hopefully rescue a friend of Griffin’s team, Jasper. Meanwhile, Jasper’s being held against his will and forced to recover pieces of an unknown machine he stole earlier thanks to the threat of death to his once-love, Mei Xing. Griffin worries about Finley, Finley worries about Griffin, Sam is protective over Emily, Emily is gushy over Sam, and Jasper wants to save Mei. It's a skip through Victorian period New York, including encounters with Irish gangs (there’s a really cool female gang leader with cat fangs!), theater trips, fighting matches, high class parties and a few meetings with genius Nikola Tesla. As they race to save Jasper and stop the villain, Dalton, from carrying out his plan, loyalties are called into question and deep fuzzy feelings are explored.
While I still liked ‘The Girl in the Clockwork Collar,’ I didn’t love it as much as I did ‘The Girl in the Steel Corset.’ Again, I was sort of irritated by Emily’s prowess in the area of inventions. The little Irish redhead is one of my favorite characters in the book personality-wise, but I still don’t like how she can practically create or fix anything mechanical. She's over-powered in this area. In this book, my pet peeve was mainly with her mechani-cat thing. This time, it’s not only a big mechanical cat, but it can also carry Emily plus a passenger, fly and run incredibly fast. Okay...not such a fun of the mechani-cat.
Also, this might sound a little morbid or mean of me, but I wanted the characters who got hurt to stay hurt just a little longer. They all seem invulnerable since they can seemingly bounce back from almost any injury. It takes away a lot of the anxiety and belief that the character is in actual peril if you’re pretty darn sure they can recover from any injury. I mean, I think Sam even mentions that he could probably get shot in the head and recover nicely as long as the bullet didn’t hit anything really imperative. I might be a little strange, but I like it when heroes are at least a little vulnerable.
Overall, ‘The Girl in the Clockwork Collar’ is a good book but not as great and engaging as the first one in the series.
I don’t know about you, but even in the most fantastic of genres, I don’t need to be constantly reminded of what it is: “Remember, this is the FUTURE! Remember, this world has MAGIC! Remember, this is a DYSTOPIAN!” So it irked me a bit that I felt The Steampunk Chronicles continually making sure I remembered that they were set in a steampunk world. I get it. I knew it going into the book, and I wasn’t likely to forget.
However, despite my reservations, I decided to go ahead and read the second book, The Girl in the Clockwork Collar. I had high hopes that maybe it would improve on the promising elements of the first book, and not be quite so heavy-handed in its execution.
[Warning: Spoilers from TGitSC ahead]
There are fewer plot elements going on here than in TGitSC. It doesn’t try to accomplish nearly so much, which is good. Also, the clockwork collar is actually a significant plot element, and Mei a significant character, making the title and the cover not nearly as superfluous as the last book (while Finley does sport a steel corset for part of TGitSC, it’s pretty irrelevant to the plot. And don’t even get me started on the cover). It also doesn’t engage in quite so much bludgeoning with the steampunk concept. We’re not reminded every other paragraph about Sam’s metal hand or the automaton in the corner or about Finley’s seemingly never-ending supply of lacy corsets. So that was nice.
And again, I love the idea for the story. I love the concept of steampunk, the imagery, the possibilities. I feel like Kady Cross was really on to something when she came up with the idea for this story and these characters. Steampunk + superpowers + mystery = good.
While not as bad as the first book in terms of cramming in too many unnecessary elements, this book still had its share of stuff that would have been better left on the cutting room floor. For example, the character of Nikola Tesla was thrown in, and he was completely unnecessary. Yes, he and Edison were the two geniuses inventing crazy gadgets around the turn of the century, and so it would have made sense to mention him, as Edison was mentioned. But he didn’t really need to be a character. He didn’t add anything (nothing he did was significantly outside Emily’s realm of expertise) to the development of the character or story.
And as for the characters who are necessary, the only one who really developed from the last book was Jasper. The other four main characters stay basically the same. Finley is still torn between her “dark” and “light” sides (which got old a while ago…like midway through the first book). Griffin is still rich and struggling to control his connection with the Aether (which the book says is a constant thing, but it actually only seems like he struggles with it when he feels like it…but more on that later). Sam is still dark and brooding and smitten with Emily and angry about the machine parts inside of him. Emily is still a mechanical genius and a little Irish spitfire who is inexplicably in love with Sam. That’s where they start, and that’s where they end. There was no noticeable development arc with any of them, and for me, I don’t care how action-packed a book is. If the characters don’t develop, I don’t see the point.
Also, I still felt the entire Aether subplot pretty clunky and unnecessary. I feel like it was an idea that could have worked if it was developed right, but it wasn’t. It comes across as a weird supernatural element, just for the sake of having a weird supernatural element. All the major plot points could have been hit using just technology and the pervasive Organites. It seemed like the only reason it was in there was so that Griffin could have some kind of superpower, but really, Griffin doesn’t need a superpower. I kind of think he’d be more interesting without one, to be honest.
Here’s where I may rant just a tad. So before I do, let me just say, I have nothing but respect for any author who has an idea and develops it and works hard and gives up months/years of their life in an effort to bring their story to people. Good ideas aren’t easy to come by, people. Have you ever tried coming up with an idea for an original book? It’s hard. And Kady Cross really had a good idea with this book, and its predecessor. I completely respect her and the effort that went into writing and publishing it.
And just because I’m about to rant about some things that bothered me, doesn’t mean that you won’t adore this book. Plenty have. I just wasn’t one of them, and for those of you out there whose taste does tend to mirror my own, I’m going to tell you why.
I think it all boils down to one main concept, and that is “Show, don’t Tell.”
If you haven’t heard of this before, basically all it means is that when it comes to reading, I want to experience things for myself. I want to be shown the world, immersed in it, and feel like I know the characters and understand their feelings. I want to be allowed to come to my own conclusions. I want to experience the book. That’s “Showing.”
“Telling” is when the reader is told how to feel, what to think, where to focus. It takes the reader out of the story (if the reader was ever in the story to begin with) and often creates a feeling of disconnect between the words on the page and what is actually happening in the story.
For example, saying “He found her very attractive” really doesn’t draw the reader into the story. On the other hand, saying how his heart beat faster and his breath quickened when their fingers accidentally brushed together – that’s showing (and please don’t tear my example to shreds; I’m spitballing here). You never have to be told he finds her attractive — you can see it and feel it in his reaction to her. And that was one of the problems with this book.
However, the main problem with Telling instead of Showing in this book was that oftentimes characters wouldn’t act in line with what we are told about them. Instead, we’ll be told they feel a certain way, then they act in a completely contrary way.
Some examples (and there may be some minor spoilers down below):
What we are told: Dalton is nothing like Jack Dandy, the seedy criminal that Finley befriends in TGitSC
What we are shown: Dalton is exactly like Jack Dandy, except we actually see him kill people (Jack just hires people to kill people).
What we are told: Finley, Sam, and Griffin should fear for their lives when they get terribly wounded
What we are shown: Finley, Sam, and Griffin never have anything to worry about because they’re all freakin’ Wolverine.
What we are told: Jasper loves Mei because of her tragic past, her sweet personality, and the trials they’ve experienced together.
What we are shown: Jasper likes Mei because she is pretty.
What we are told: Tesla and Emily understand the Aether well enough to harness it and build inventions that utilize it productively.
What we are shown: Tesla and Emily haven’t the first clue what the Aether is or how it works.
What we are told: Griffin and Finley are concerned about propriety and their different stations in life, and aren’t sure of their feelings toward each other.
What we are shown: Griffin and Finley don’t care a lick about propriety and are obviously totally into each other.
What we are told: Finley wears corsets all the time, and is able to fight, kick, jump, and otherwise bounce around like an acrobat while wearing them.
What we are shown: Whatever Finley’s wearing can’t possibly be a corset, because I’ve worn a corset, and they are not flexible.
What we are told: Griffin is powerful and muscular, and Finley is small and strong.
What we are shown: Either Griffin is a scrawny beanpole of a man, or Finley is far more voluptuous than she’s described, since she can barely fit into his clothes.
I could keep going, but that would be excessive. I think you get my point.
And my very last two issues with the book, which are completely random:
1. Emily is constantly (CONSTANTLY) described as having “ropey” hair. And I don’t know what that means. Does she have dreadlocks? Somehow, I doubt it. But that’s the only descriptor we’re ever given: “ropey.” What does that mean? WHAT DOES IT MEAN???
2. Mei Xing? Really? This is her name? Also, it would not be pronounced like “amazing,” as Finley so often jokes. The Chinese pronunciation of “Xing” (which is what they’d be using, since Mei is Chinese. Duh.) is “Shing.” So beside the fact that a random race joke was attempted with this terrible name, the joke isn’t even accurate.
Overall, while I thought some elements improved from the first book, I found myself irritated and fighting to get through this one. I won’t be reading the third one, if/when it is released. Which is sad, because as I said before, I love the idea of steampunk. And the covers are so very, very pretty.