Author: Kady Cross
Series: Steampunk Chronicles #0.5
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publishing Date: May 1st, 2011
Genre: Steampunk (YA)
Source: Free on Amazon!
Synopsis:Finley Jayne knows she's not 'normal'. Normal girls don't lose time, or have something inside them that makes them capable of remarkably violent things. Her behavior has already cost her one job, so when she's offered the lofty position of companion to Phoebe, a debutante recently engaged to Lord Vincent, she accepts, despite having no experience. Lord Vincent is a man of science with his automatons and inventions, but Finley is suspicious of his motives where Phoebe is concerned. She will do anything to protect her new friend, but what she discovers is even more monstrous than anything she could have imagined...
The Strange Case of Finley Jayne is actually the prequel to The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross. I suppose I should have reviewed it first...but since I read them out of order, I figured that I could review them out of order too. Deal with it :P Surprisingly, I enjoyed the prequel a lot. Like...as in potentially more than the actual book. Some prequels are so short that they don't have enough information, they seem rushed, or the characters don't get fleshed out as well as they could...This was definitely not the case with Stange Case...I don't know if it was because I read TGISC first, but the characters already seemed vibrant and full of life in this prequel. I felt more attached to them in this book because you get an intense look into Finley's head so you really see who she is and what she cares about.
The story was also amazingly well written and excellently paced. I was worried when I saw that it was only 100 pages or so, because I wondered how good of a story it could be when it's sequel is 500 pages and still doesn't answer any questions. Yet it was almost like the short length made it better. Instead of long, boring, descriptive paragraphs that drag on forever, everything was short, sweet, and to the point which I loved. It didn't seem rushed at all, which impresses me greatly. The only thing that was glossed over was Finley's dual nature, but I don't think Cross could get into that too much without totally ruining major plot points in the next book so I am okay with it. I actually found the pacing and plot to be much more to my liking than Girl in the Steel Corset, simply because it was non-stop action due to the short page count.
Also, Finley was the only narrator. I really felt like I got a chance to get to know her personality better because the POV wasn't switching between characters and I was able to really spend some time in her head and got to see how she thought and felt about everything. She is also very active in this story. She doesn't just sit back and let things happen or wonder about the mystery, she gets out there and explores on her own. Not to mention performs some pretty fantastic feats of agility and strength to save her new friends and employers. I found that she grew on me a lot in this story where previously she fell kind of flat. With the jumping perspectives we lose track of who Finley is, and it was nice to get back to square one and really figure out why we care what happens to her. She is also a lot saucier and feistier in this book. It's like she gained a bit of spice when she was on her own that she lost when she moves in with Griff and the rest.
The plot was absolutely fantastic, especially for the short page count. I did end up figuring out what was going to happen before it did, but it was still a super creepy, totally fabulous idea and I thought that it was very well written and explained. The villain was just plain eerie...he made your skin crawl in a delightfully awful way, but somehow left you feeling sorry for him at the same time. The action scenes were the best and they included everything from deathly run-away carriages to fight scenes with mad-scientists and all happened so quickly that you felt like if you blinked you would miss it! The story is compact, but not so rushed that you lose interest, and things are all tied up nicely in the end so that you are prepared for The Girl in the Steel Corset.