Cross, Kady. The Girl in the Steel Corset. Don Mills, Ontario: Harlequin Teen, 2011. (978-0-373-21070-1) – includes bonus novella The Strange Case of Finley Jayne
The Steampunk Chronicles
- The Strange Case of Finley Jayne
- The Girl in the Steel Corset
- The Girl in the Clockwork Collar
- The Girl with the Iron Touch
Set in 1897 Victorian England, the novel opens with sixteen-year-old Finley being attacked by her employer’s son. But Finley is no ordinary girl to be taken advantage of by the nobility. She has an alter ego that has supernatural strength and a desire for violence. Even though she was just protecting herself, she knows as a maid in the noble’s house there will be consequences and so she runs – straight in front of the velocycle of Griffin King, the Duke of Greythorne.
While Finley recuperates at Greythorne House, Griffin quickly realizes that there is something dark and dangerous about Finley but he has secrets of his own and he is sure he can help the troubled girl merge the two sides of her personality. Besides, he already has an unusual collection of friends including the brilliant scientist Emily, the part-mechanical Sam, and the American cowboy Jasper who is faster than any normal human. It is difficult to trust an outsider with their secrets and Finley’s arrival adds an added strain to an already complex set of relationships.
Throw into the mix the mad Machinist who plans to take over England and destroy Griffin. Things have gotten tricky
While running away after being attacked by her employer’s son, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne is hit by Griffin King. Now, Griffin says he wants to protect her but Finley has a secret. There’s something dark inside her and it is getting stronger. If she stays, who is going to protect Griffin?
Cross’ decision to employ an omniscient third person point of view is appropriate. In The Girl in the Steel Corset she introduces the reader to the many characters that will star in the succeeding novels. By moving between her characters, she allows the reader to get a feeling for the internal motivations of Finley, Emily, Sam, Griffin, and to a smaller degree Jasper, although the primary focus of the story remains with Finley. In the following novels, Cross tells her tale focusing on one of the other characters while still developing the relationships and plotlines developed in the first novel.
The author also took the time to provide appropriate backstories for her quintet of stars. By doing do, the reader can empathize with Sam’s mixed feelings about his robotic side; the illusions to Frankenstein are light but resonate. The similarities to the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also add additional depth to the tale.
Cross aptly describes the Steampunk Chronicles as “Teen X-Men meets League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, minus the extreme violence.” (Steampunk Scholar blog, March 9, 2013). The only thing missing from this summary is the romance that she wove through the narrative.
Worth adding to a high school library collection. Fun, light, and sigh-worthy.
Information about the Author:
Kady Cross and Kate Cross are both pseudonyms of author, Kathryn Smith. As Kathryn Smith, she has written a number of adult historical romances. Please see her sites for more information:
Kady Cross: http://www.kadycross.com/about/
Kate Cross: http://www.katecross.com/
Reading Level/Interest Age:
- Young Adult
- Sexual content (mild)
Levithan, D. (2005). Boy meets boy. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Paul is comfortable in his skin. He has grown up in a family that has supported and accepted him throughout his life. He lives in a town that is supportive of all types of people. In fact, he found out that he was gay from his kindergarten teacher when he was five-years-old.
Even though his life is pretty good he cannot escape some high school drama. When his best friend decides to break up with him and his ex-boyfriend decides he wants to be part of his life again, things get complicated with his new love, Noah.
The simplicity of Levithan’s plot and language make the plot accessible to the reader. The narrative arc also follows the traditional pattern of a romance. The simplicity of the story allows the reader to appreciate some of the literacy devices artfully employed by the author.
For example, the idealized world Levithan created for Paul, such as the supportive school with the transsexual football star, supportive town, and family, is negatively mirrored by the lack of support and desire of suppression portrayed by Tony’s family and the lack of interest or affection in Noah’s family.
The simplicity of the writing also allows the reader focus on the diverse group of characters in a utopian world. In Levithan’s utopia, gender and sexuality are simply not an issue. There is no segregation of the homosexual community. Teenagers of all types gather to dance in a bookstore. There are motorcycle-riding cheerleaders. The transsexual homecoming queen is also the football quarterback. The ex-boyfriend turns out to be bisexual.
In the end, Levithan is looking at relationships. He is looking at relationships between siblings, boys that are friends, boyfriend-boyfriend, friends of the opposite gender, parent to child, and boyfriend-girlfriend. He also looks at what type of relationships exist after break-ups.
When Paul’s best friend decides to break up with him and his ex-boyfriend decides he wants to be part of his life again, things get complicated with his new love, Noah. Paul holds out hope that he will be able to beat the odds and reunite before the Dowager Dance. After all, in a high school with motorcycling cheerleaders and a homecoming queen who is also the star quarterback, anything is possible.
Information About the Author:
David Levithan is a man with many hats. He has worked for Scholastic since he was 19 and has moved through the ranks to be an editorial director of Scholastic Press fiction. As an editor, he has been involved with several series including Star Wars and the Baby-sitters Club.
In 2002, he founded the PUSH imprint which is interested in “new voices and new authors in teen literature.” Through PUSH, Levithan has worked with such well-known authors such as Suzanne Collins, M.T. Anderson, and Garth Nix.
Boy Meets Boy was published in 2003 and started his career as an author. Since that time he has published a number of books. He has co-authored a couple of books and has become a crossover writer with his adult book, Lover’s Dictionary.
For more information, please visit his website, http://www.davidlevithan.com/
- Personal identity
- Plot development
- “Romance by any other name” booklist
- “Not your typical high school” booklist
- Create some notes that Paul and Noah may have sent to each other.
Reading Level/Interest Age:
- Grades 9-12
- Reading level 6.2
- Homosexuality and transsexual identity
- Listen to the critic to understand what the concerns are.
- Ask if he/she has read the book
- Ask if he/she has spoken to his/her child about the concerns.
- Explain rationale for including the book in the collection
- Provide CLA Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom and CLA’s Position Statement of Diversity and Inclusion documents
- Provide school’s selection policy
- Provide list of reviews/lists
- If necessary, provide a “Request for Reconsideration form”
Why did you include this book?:
- Won the 2003 Lambda Literary Award in the Children/Young Adult section.
- Jones, T. (2003). Boy Meets Boy (Book). School Library Journal, 49(9), 216-217.
- Boy Meets Boy. (2005). Publishers Weekly, 252(27), 97.
- Cart, M. (2003). Boy Meets Boy (Book). Booklist, 99(22), 1980.
Levithan, D. (2004). Supporting gay teen literature. School Library Journal (January 10, 2004) retrieved at http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA456885.html
David Levithan’s site: http://www.davidlevithan.com/
Lambda Awards: http://www.lambdaliterary.org/awards/