by Kady Cross
Published by Harlequin Teen
On May 29, 2012
Source: received an e-ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. Read my review policy/disclosure here.
Series report: While this book does a good job of recapping past events, it doesn't do as much to refresh the reader's memory about the relationships between the characters.
My summary: In Girl in the Clockwork Collar, the gang of misfits from Girl in the Steel Corset returns for new adventures. Finley, Emily, Griffin and Sam leave London in search of their friend Jasper, who has been taken away by bounty hunters. In New York, they find Jasper and his ex-girlfriend Mei, who are being controlled by a hoodlum named Dalton. Jasper used to be in Dalton's gang, and thus knows the location of something Dalton desperately wants. To ensure that Jasper is willing to help him, Dalton has fitted Mei with a clockwork collar that will choke her if she flees.
My thoughts: If you enjoyed Girl With the Steel Corset, you'll probably like The Girl In the Clockwork Collar. I thought both books were light, enjoyable reads, but as I turned the pages, I kept wishing for even more -- more character development, more surprises, more of an emotional payoff.
I was very excited to learn that this series was moving to New York for book two. Turn of the century New York is one of my favorite settings for fiction -- I'm crazy about books like The Alienist, The House of Mirth, and Washington Square.
The characters in the Steel Corset/Clockwork Collar series are all appealing -- feisty Finley, noble Griffin, tart-tongued Emily, and the gentle mechanical giant Sam. I know many readers will be disappointed that there's no trace of Jack in Girl in the Clockwork Collar. I missed him too!
While I did like the characters, I can't say I felt much of a connection with any of them. Each seems to have been assigned an insecurity that they repeatedly obsess about in interior monologue. Griffin broods about Finley's affinity for "the dark side" and Finley frets that a nobleman like Griffin will never choose a lowborn girl like her. But none of this ever gets discussed or resolved, even after two books.
As in The Girl in the Steel Corset, the plot of The Girl in the Clockwork Collar moves smoothly and steadily, fueled by luck and coincidence. There's really never any doubt that the gang will prevail and the bad guys will be defeated.
To me, the best parts of this series are the steampunk elements. I'm not sure I fully understand the Aether or the "beasties," but I enjoyed reading about all the cool gadgetry, like Mei's clockwork collar. I also appreciate the fact that these books don't end on cliffhangers. Each book has a resolution, while still trying to tempt you to read the next installment. Looks like the gang is headed home to London, which means ... Jack is back!
Have you read either of these books? Or do you have any steampunk recommendations for me? Let me know in comments!