Friday, December 28, 2012
The Friday Society
Dial Books, 2012
YA Historical Steampunk
I was so excited to see that my library had purchased this but I ended up mad at myself because I had the opportunity to buy a signed copy and missed out. I loved the sassy poses on the front and the tease of steampunk, a sub-genre I just adore. I also read some positive early reviews (see Jen Ryland's and Liviania from In Bed With Books)
The overwhelming impression I received from this book was one of fun! We have three distinct personalities comprising our heroic trio and they are serious about their work but not above having fun at the opportune moment. Each girl is introduced with an explosion that uniquely relates to her situation. Cora (in the center) is an assistant to Lord White, an inventor. She has been rescued from the streets and has proven to have a keen mind but she bristles when she discovers that Lord White has hired another (male) assistant. Nellie (the blonde on the left) is magician's assistant to the Great Raheem. She uses her beauty as a distraction for their magic while her agility aids in her contortions. Last to be introduced is Michiako (Japanese girl on the right) who studied to be a samurai but never took the final exam due to her master's belief that women could not be samurai. Instead she went to England and now serves as an assistant to a weapons instructor of low character. The girls meet by accident when the men they serve are all at the same function and they keep running into each other before having the brilliant idea of teaming up to solve a crisis, knowing their gender causes no impediment to their brains.
That crisis is of someone threatening to destroy London to the terror and bewilderment of most. A second more personal crisis is the mysterious deaths of poor flower girls throughout the city including an old friend of Cora's. Over the course of the book, the trio crack both cases and the scene is set for future adventures as they dub themselves the Friday Society.
As I said, I loved this book! I found it so much fun and I loved each of the main characters. Each is strong with her own personality and witty comments. The book is told in shifting third-person and every time it changed, I decided I liked that character the most-I could not make up my mind. I also liked the supporting characters (including one I pegged as bad news) especially the suitor for Nellie who was so cute. There was a bit of romance but it is in no way overwhelming and it always takes a backseat to the more important work of the mysteries. A main theme of the book is females facing prejudice against males, a particular favorite of mine, so that also certainly aided in my delight.
My one problem was that the book was maybe a bit on the long side? There's a lot of set-up before the big crisis of London being threatened. A few smaller incidents lead up to that as well as fleshing out the main characters but it seemed a bit much. I think it's just because it's the first book and we need to learn those things. I hope the second book (please please please let there be a second book) is more tightly paced.