Review: The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross

Rating:3.5 stars
Pub Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young adult, historical science fiction, steampunk
Format/Source: Hardcover, bought
Status: Third book in the Steampunk Chronicles (book 3 of 5)

In 1897 London, something not quite human is about to awaken

When mechanical genius Emily is kidnapped by rogue automatons, Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What's left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons—or forfeit her friends' lives.

With Griffin being mysteriously tormented by the Aether, the young duke's sanity is close to the breaking point. Seeking help, Finley turns to Jack Dandy, but trusting the master criminal is as dangerous as controlling her dark side. When Jack kisses her, Finley must finally confront her true feelings for him...and for Griffin.

Meanwhile, Sam is searching everywhere for Emily, from Whitechapel's desolate alleyways to Mayfair's elegant mansions. He would walk into hell for her, but the choice she must make will test them more than they could imagine.

To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist's ultimate creation—an automaton more human than machine. And if she's to have any chance at triumphing, she must summon a strength even she doesn't know she has...

I am really, really sad as I write this review. It's not that I didn't like The Girl with the Iron Touch, but after the first two installments of the Steampunk Chronicles unexpectedly blew me away, I expected this to do the same. I am disappointed in this novel because I don't at all think it maintained the same high level of development in plot or character that The Girl in the Steel Corset and The Girl in the Clockwork Collar did. Upon completing this novel and feeling extremely underwhelmed, I sought out a few opinions via various websites and blogs, and I found I was not alone. Many reviewers, it seemed, have the same problems with Iron Touch that I have and nearly every rating was the same: 3.5. Enjoyable, but not great. I dislike posting negative reviews, but the not-great parts of this novel are so distracting that it's hard to talk about the good things. So I'm going to talk about the novel, but then I'm going to tell you why you should read this series anyway. And in case you are wondering, yes, I will be reading the rest of the series. I have no doubt that the fourth novel can redeem this series.

So let's start off with some things I did like. 1. Jack Dandy's increased presence. Fans of this series have fallen in love with the prince of crime, and it's no wonder. He's the mysterious bad boy made a bit less mysterious by his own novella (the super wonderful "Dak Discover of Jack Dandy," which I totally recommend you read before Iron Touch). He is charming and aggravating. He is gentle and dangerous. He's a flirt and a rascal and a criminal and a gentleman by birth. You may find his accent a bit distracting, but he is the only literary character EVER who makes me read his dialogue aloud, and honestly, I crack up when I do. Although I adore Griffin, I wonder why Finley has never even attempted to get closer to Jack. He's a wonderful friend to her, but my heart breaks and the inner Jack/Finley shipper in me is sad that I've never gotten to read them making out at least once. I bet it would be awesome. Jack is truly one of the best parts of this series, and I can only hope that his importance to the series will grow. The way things end in Iron Touch makes me think we will indeed see more of the Whitechapel crime lord.

2. The softer side of Sam meets the ballsy-er side of Emily. I like where Kady is taking this couple. I wanted to shout "Hallelujah!" when they finally kissed. Sam is a blockhead most of the time. I've wanted to like him, but so far he's been pretty unlikeable. Emily's influence has made him more trusting, and I really like that. Meanwhile Emily, thanks, I think, to Finley, has become much more of a firecracker. Because of her size, the others tend to want to protect her, but I like that she proved she can help herself. More power to you, lass!

3. The resolution of some of the questions raised in the first two novels. Each ended with, not a cliffhanger, but definite unanswered questions and a lack of clarity, although it was intentional and done well. I think Iron Touch did a great job of getting those answers to the reader in a timely manner.

Now, on to the things I did not care for. 1. Griffin and Finley. Okay, I really, really like kissing scenes. Perhaps this is because there has been a distinct lack of romance in my real life in quite some time, but I love a good romance. Griff and Fin's chemistry is fantastic, and I've enjoyed their tension...until now. I just read a blog post written by an author explaining that every kiss, every makeout, every more-than-that momentshoudl have a purpose. Aside from the very first kiss they shared in Iron Touch, which was AWESOME, I felt the romance was purposeless, flat, and (oh, the horror) boring. I was like, "Oh, look. Finley and Griffin are making out. Again." *yawn* After two books, I'm cool with them being actually together, but I need them to have meaningful romantic moments or it's just not going to work. Normally I'd be all over their last interaction, but it felt forced and awkward, a throwaway of a scene.

2. The lack of Jasper was appalling. I know he and Cat are off doing something mysterious that will probably be important for the final two books, but after he was such an integral part of Clockwork Collar, I missed him desperately. I know he's cool with coming in second place to Sam, but really, he should have been more concerned and more integral to the search for Emily.

3. The technical aspects of this novel were pretty poor, truth be told. I think there were many, many details that should have been edited out or refined. I found many passages that were paraphrased or even repeated word-for-word in the novel. The writing itself was choppy. The pacing was off. There wasn't actually a whole lot of plot going on. I was also very distracted by the perspective switching. I would have liked a bit more of a warning when the pov changed, but sometimes, I didn't catch it, and that was disorienting.

4. I think too much time is being spent on the whole Aether aspect, and unfortunately, because of the conclusion of this novel, this is not something that is going to go away for the next two books. I think this weird shadowy ghost world is slowly taking over the influence of the real world, and perhaps that's intentional, but I'd rather the characters spend more time interacting with the real world. It's...well, more real. I think the point Kady is trying to make is that the Aether is anywhere and everywhere, and thus, the consequences of a villain having access to it are potentially catestrophic, but I'm just not into it.

So, after I've talked about all the ways in which I disliked The Girl with the Iron Touch, I bet you're wondering why bother reading the series at all. Well, I'll tell you. Despite the disappointments of Iron Touch, I actually did enjoy this novel. I would not have given even 3 stars if I didn't. There are many novels out there that are worse. The reason I didn't rate higher is because of the greatness of the first two. In Steel Corset, the action draws you in immediately, and the characters are immediately likeable. They feel like family. Mystery abound in this steampunked-out London, and Kady takes you on a wondrous journey with retro but familiar technology mixed with corsets and cravats. Clockwork Collar details how the team reacts to a threat to the family, and you feel the characters drawing closer together. And the two novellas, the aforementioned "Dark Discovery" (1.5) and "The Strange Case of Finley Jayne" (0.5) do a wonderful job of showing off two of the characters. You learn so much about Finley and Jack in these stories, and they do a wonderful job of filling in the missing pieces of their characters as well as the overarching plot arc. If you are a fan of the Infernal Devices, you'll enjoy the Steampunk Chronicles.

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About the Author:
Kady Cross is a pseudonym for USA Today bestselling author Kathryn Smith. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and a pride of cats. She likes singing with Rock Band on the 360, British guys, Vietnamese food, and makeup (she’s hopelessly addicted to YouTube makeup tutorials!). When she’s not writing Kady likes to catch up on her favorite TV shows, read a good book or make her own cosmetics.

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  1. I didn't even know there was going to be 5 books! I originally had this out from the library, but I couldn't get into it. Maybe it's having middle book problems. I really want to read this one though.

    1. Middle book syndrome is EXACTLY what it's suffering from! And yes! #4 is called The Girl with the Windup Heart.

  2. I love steampunky books, and this one looks really good! I'll have to check it out next time I'm at the library.

  3. I've heard of these books! I think I might check this out...Sounds like it's really interesting...

  4. sounds like such an interesting book - love the title too! will definitely give this one a try :)

  5. I've been meaning to start this series. I love steampunk and have read great reviews of the first books. I'm sure book four will be better!

    1. I hope so too. Kady's a great writer; I think this book just suffered from a bit of middle book syndrome.