Thursday, June 30, 2011
The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross
I downloaded The Strange Case of Finley Jayne for free a month or two ago. It's a prequel to The Girl in the Steel Corset, a YA steampunk novel that just came out recently. I wasn't originally intending to read the book, but when I saw that my library had ordered the ebook, I decided what the heck, and read both.
The prequel is really just a novella, about 75 pages on the Nook (so probably about the equivalent of 100 pages in a physical version, although it's not available in that format). It's not bad, but it was clearly written to promote the novel, and feels a bit rushed at times. The writing and story isn't as good as the actual novel, like the author was rushed to get it out in time to use the free download as a promotion.
The heroine of both The Strange Case of Finley Jayne and The Girl with the Steel Corset is, of course, Finley Jayne, a teenage girl with extraordinary abilities — and a dark secret. There is another side to her, one that is extraordinarily strong and fast and capable of extreme violence, which comes out anytime she gets angry or frightened. It's steampunk fantasy, which means it's a bit like revisionist history: the Victorian era but with advancements in steam-powered technology that never actually happened. Oh, and the fashions are a bit... goth.
Both books are heavily influenced by Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth and Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (the similarity to the title of the novella isn't a coincidence). I also see a lot of H.G. Wells-type influence.
Since the novella is a prequel, it takes place before Finley finds out anything about why she is the way she is, which I think takes some of the interest away from the character and her story. She is able to use her abilities in order to protect a friend, but it doesn't quite jive with the way the novel begins, with Finley in trouble and having no one to run to. I think it would have been better if the novella had been planned out before the novel itself was written.
I enjoyed The Girl in the Steel Corset much more, however, and I'll write a review of that next. The prequel is free, so it probably wouldn't hurt to download and read it if you're interested, but I recommend going straight to the novel. It's much better.