Kady Cross (4 stars)
summary from Goodreads: "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."
MY THOUGHTS: I've read all three of Cross's novels (well, two novels and a prequel/short story) in this series, and I think they've been a lot of fun. On the technical side of things, I think Cross's style is just average -- she's not a flowery writer, but her prose doesn't stand out much, either. Sometimes an author can really grab you with a spare style, but that's not the case here. Cross writes serviceable prose, clear enough to set the scene and make her point -- and that's about it. Character development is pretty basic; obviously more time is devoted to Finley's perspective, though we spend a good bit of time in Griffin's head too. Both of these viewpoints work in favor of the romance (though I'm a little disappointed that we don't have Jack Dandy in this book to liven things up a bit).
This book featured a number of things I've come to expect from steampunk, as well as a bonus: Nikola Tesla, who is one of my very favorite historic characters to show up in steampunk/alternate history novels. The New York setting is a great touch, though I wish the author had spent a little more time really describing the setting.
If I had to make one complaint about this book, it would be this: the pacing was really weak, particularly when it came to the climax of the book. The big "showdown" at the end took all of three pages to happen, and the scenes cut to each other too quickly. I felt like there was a lot that was left out and it all just felt so anti-climactic, especially after a buildup of almost 300 pages. There's one big plot point that's just left flapping loosely as well -- of course, I have my suspicions about what is going on, but obviously I'll have to wait until book #3 to see if I'm right.
Still, this is a fast, fun read -- almost like a chicklit version of steampunk.