Let me start off by saying that I read the description and jumped at the chance to review a steampunk adventure story. It had a mechanical kitty on the cover which made me squeal. I was convinced this was an adventure tale I would love. However, that is not what this book is. There is steampunk, but this is a YA romance, which is not a genre that I prefer. Therefore, my complaints are many. My rating is based on how I perceive the writing itself and how well I think someone who does enjoy this genre would like this story.
The tale begins with Allie, a young girl with a secret past who is beginning her year at a new school. Naturally, as it is in these novels, she is an outcast, and the other girls see fit to bully her. No doubt, the hot guy is going to come to her rescue. Jared does not disappoint. He is instantly attracted to her (of course), and he is willing to defend her from the other girls. Allie subsequently makes a few guy friends. Your typical YA romance plot.
The first half of the book contains little to no action. If you want a steampunk adventure, avoid this book. If you want a YA romance, then read on. The first 120 pages (epub version standard settings) mostly revolve around going to class, going riding, and being unable to resist the hormonal attraction to the hot guy. Your typical lines like “Why does he/she smell so good?” and “Why am I so drawn to him/her?” are present, and make me want to gag myself with a teenage fork. I’m sorry, but I don’t like romance. If you’re into romance, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Every romance I’ve read is exactly the same, so this one measures up against those.
The second half finally introduces an actual plot, where Allie’s friend Zeb creates a very cool mechanical allosaurus. He’s also being hunted down, and a group of mysterious men attempt to kidnap him. His friends, Allie and Jared, have to come to his rescue. Sound like it’s taking off? No, it isn’t. There’s a dance to go to, so the adventure is forgotten for a while. Toward the end, another scheme comes up. Someone is plotting against the queen, so perhaps there is more story for the future. The one action scene in the book is nicely written, and it kept me engaged for the short period that it is present. There is talk of a secret concerning Allie’s father, but it comes at the end after I had lost all interest. I mainly kept reading hoping that the adventure would sneak in there. It did not.
I don’t want to leave out one of the more interesting characters of the book. Allie’s female friend Eloise is a Dr. Frankenstein in the making. Her parts were enjoyable, and I would much prefer a book about her, so long as her romantic interests are kept as a secondary plot. I also enjoyed the antics of the mechanical kitty Weasel. Who wouldn’t?
Main character Allie is nicely developed, complete with secrets and a good look inside her head. I felt like I knew her pretty well. She is your average teen character, and I’m glad she didn’t turn into a vampire. That’s about all I can say. I neither liked nor disliked her. I would much rather have read about her adventures in Egypt, but there was a romance involved there too, so it probably wouldn’t be for me.
With all my complaints, I would not call this a bad book. It is nicely written with a good amount of description, and there is obviously a well developed backstory that I was only given tidbits about. This book simply wasn’t for me, but I’ve tried to rate it fairly. I do think fans of YA romance who enjoy a twist of steampunk or fantasy will like this book. It is different from your average “dating a vampire or witch” type YA romance, and I appreciate the author doing something a little less common. There aren’t enough good steampunk writers out there, and Exley has incorporated those elements nicely. Sadly YA romance isn’t my thing. If she writes an adventure, I’m there!
I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
3 out of 5 stars
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