My rating: I’d go there again (3.5/4)
The Girl with the Windup Heart is the final installment in the Steampunk Chronicles series, and it certainly ended with a bang.
In the previous book in the series, The Girl with the Iron Touch, readers were introduced to Mila, a kind of cyborg – steampunk style. After reading book three, I was really intrigued to learn more about Mila. The concept of an engineered person is something I find fascinating no matter the genre that it pops up in and I wasn’t expecting it in a steampunk world. At any rate, Mila takes a greater role in the fourth book and has her own troubles outside of the original group introduced in book 1. Mila is presently living with the notorious Jack Dandy and learning what it means to be human. Of course things become complicated when she acts on her feelings for Jack. Assuming that he doesn’t want her because of her less-than-human status, Mila flees the only home she’s know and takes up with the circus, her special skills allowing her to fit right in. Jack is naturally rather alarmed by Mila’s departure and has come to care for his charge, much more than he ought. He is determined that Mila can do better than himself and has been working tirelessly to make that happen. Alas, his plans fall apart when Mila leaves.
While there is a great deal of focus on Jack and Mila, there is still drama happening with Griffin King’s original friends. The conflict with the Machinist has reached new heights when he attacks Griffin from the other side and keeps him prisoner. Naturally, Griffin’s loyal friends have no intention of allowing this imprisonment to become permanent and embark on a madcap Plan.
There is no shortage of action in the last book in the series and I really enjoyed catching up with all of the characters in the series. However, I think the number of characters in the book was a bit of a detriment. I almost felt that the book could have been split into two. One with the adventure of the usual crew: Griffin, Finely, Emily, Sam, and Jasper. The second plot, with the romance developing between Mila and Jack. I think combining these plot lines didn’t allow for as much depth to each story as there could have been. I personally feel like there was too much going on with the number of perspectives that readers jumped through, and I would have liked a more distinct separation of the plots, because at the end of the day I don’t really feel like the two plots were connected well.
Mila’s story and her problems regarding her humanness didn’t really have anything to do with the Machinist. The Machinist may have created her, but it didn’t have any bearing on the current problem with the villain. I think this hurt the conflict that was happening with Griffin and company because it was jarring for the reader to follow another plot line that didn’t have much impact on the overarching problem of the entire series. Likewise, I think the villainous plot also got in the way of the romance between Jack and Mila. It came in fits and starts between the scenes of what was happening elsewhere, and I think it could have been made more meaningful if readers were able to spend more time with Jack and Mila. Yes, it wasn’t a surprise that they got their happily ever after, but I think it would have been lovely for readers to spend more time with these characters and see how they reached this point as it seemed a little rushed by the end of the book.
Ultimately, I think this book was a lot of fun and it did have all of the elements that drew me to the series in the first place. Yet, I do feel that the large cast of characters ended up preventing the book to be as cohesive as it could have been. There was a lot happening in The Girl with the Windup Heart and it didn’t flow as nicely as it could have. I do like the world that the author has created and I would be interested in where she chooses to go next. The author writes a good romance, so I would like to see where this goes next in the YA genre.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
If you like the steampunk elements as well as the romance, I would suggest checking out Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles. These books are a lot of romantic fun and while they introduce a large cast of characters, each character get’s there own story. The first in the series is Steam & Sorcery. It’s a great introduction to this steampunk world filled with magic and intrigue.
For a YA steampunk adventure, I would recommend A Conspiracy of Alchemists. It features an unlikely heroine and is filled with high flying adventure. I haven’t read the second book, but I enjoyed the first fast-paced installment.
Another YA to try is The Dark Unwinding. I like this series because it had a lot of gothic elements in book one. But be warned, this one is firmly in young YA territory, so it doesn’t have as big of an emphasis on the romance, and when it does it’s much more juvenile than you find in The Steampunk Chronicles.