“Sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne and her “straynge band of mysfits” have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper, hauled off by bounty hunters. But Jasper is in the clutches of a devious former friend demanding a trade—the dangerous device Jasper stole from him…for the life of the girl Jasper loves. One false move from Jasper and the strange clockwork collar around Mei’s neck tightens. And tightens.
From the rough streets of lower Manhattan to elegant Fifth Avenue, the motley crew of teens with supernatural abilities is on Jasper’s elusive trail. And they’re about to discover how far they’ll go for friendship.
More than ever, Finley Jayne will rely on powerful English duke Griffin King to balance her dark magic with her good side. Yet Griffin is at war with himself over his secret attraction to Finley…and will risk his life and reputation to save her. Sam, more machine than man, finds his moody heart tested by Irish lass Emily—whose own special abilities are no match for the darkness she discovers on the streets.
Now, to help those she’s come to care for so deeply, Finley Jayne must infiltrate a criminal gang. Only problem is, she might like the dark side a little too much….”
Thoughts: Finley Jayne is back and better than ever. This time around, she finds herself matching wits with Jasper’s former friend, someone who makes Jack Dandy look downright angelic. The Girl in the Clockwork Collar thrusts Finley into the shady underworld of New York City as they attempt to rescue Jasper and Mei from Dalton’s nefarious plotting. While touching on Griffin’s and Finley’s burgeoning relationship, The Girl in the Clockwork Collar is really Jasper’s story, rounding out a reader’s knowledge of this “band of mysfits”.
Just as in the first novel in the series, Finley remains an admirable heroine. She kicks some serious booty while managing to learn from her mistakes. In fact, readers will rejoice at the maturing that Finley shows from The Girl in the Steel Corset to The Girl in the Clockwork Collar. Finley relies less on her fists and more on her brain. Better yet, she avoids more of the awkward non-dialogue with Griffin that can become so tedious in young adult novels. It is a step in the right direction towards something more adult and definitely sets the stage for romantic sparks in future novels.
There is something to be said about a series where the women are just as strong, if not just stronger, than the men. Finley, Emily, and even Mei prove more than capable of holding their own among Griffin, Jasper, and Sam. It is as refreshing as it is fun and sets a different tone from some of the other popular young adult series out there.
Unfortunately, what is an attempt to be mysterious and crafty ends up being entirely too predictable. Everything from Mei’s relationship to Jasper to the mysterious evil force at work in the Aether is easily discernible to a careful reader. There is always some element of predictability among novels of this genre, but in this instance it was particularly bothersome as there was no element of the story that one could not hazard an accurate guess. Still, to be fair, most readers are not selecting The Girl in the Clockwork Collar for its surprises.
Another curious aspect of The Girl in the Clockwork Collar is the fact that there was decidedly less steampunk this time. This was very much a character-driven plot without the ingenuity of the steam-run machines that makes this genre so fun. Between the predictability and the missing steampunk elements, the entire story suffered from the standard “middle novel in a series” issues.
In spite of its more negative aspects, The Girl in the Clockwork Collar remains an easy-to-read, enjoyable story. Finley is one heroine that remains a joy to observe as her powers progress. The story is exactly what fans of the series have come to expect, with enough unresolved mysterious events to create anticipation for future stories. It will be especially interesting to see what the next girl is wearing!