Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

Title: The Friday Society
Author: Adrienne Kress
Publisher: Dial
Release Date: December 6, 2012
Pages: 440 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC from an awesome friend
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: author website

The Friday SocietyAn action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns –and the heroines who use them all
Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician's assistant. The three young women's lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It's up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.


And then there was an explosion.

No matter what kind of book it is, I am going to imagine "And then there was an explosion" is the first line and not what the first line actually is. That line starts off The Friday Society (and four of its chapters) with a literal bang and it works because this book is a bang. Finally, a girl-power book that is actually a book about how amazing women are! The novel has a few fatal flaws, but it's still a roller-coaster-fun read from beginning to end.

Cora, Nellie, and Michiko are all fantastic characters. In quiet, sharp Michiko's case, I was fully invested in her and her story by the third chapter told from her point of view, and it often takes me longer to get even marginally invested in a character's story. Meanwhile, cheery, adventurous Nellie joins my glittering goddess pantheon alongside Ke$ha. Anyone who uses glitter as a weapon successfully is automatically promoted to goddess in my book. Cora is my least favorite of the three only by a little; if she'd had an outstanding quality, it would have been a three-way tie for my favorite.

The jacket copy doesn't even begin to hint at all the twists and turns the well-paced plot makes. Bomb threats, a mysterious society, a man obsessed with eyes, the murder of flower girls, the murder of a bunch of men who seem to be connected to one another,... There is always something going on and there is rarely a chance to get bored. The resolution of the main plot line comes out of nowhere in the very best way, but one minor plot line can be quickly solved even though its solution comes at the very end of the book. Just pay attention to the clues and spot the red herring.

On the romance side of things (because it's hard for a YA novel to have no romance in it anymore), it's a bit disappointing. The two romantic relationships don't get much development. Cora's insta-love-tainted relationship with Andrew, the other assistant her boss hired, ends exactly the way it should: badly. I thought Andrew was a creep from the moment he made his intentions obvious and he only got worse from there. Good on Cora for figuring it out. Nellie's romance does end well, but its development is only slightly better. Cute, but not entirely believable.

Kress also uses some anachronistic language in the narrative voice on purpose, so anyone who finds themselves annoyed when novels do that will want to be prepared for it. Nellie once says something gives her the heebie-jeebies when the term didn't come about until ten to twenty years later in another country; another time, the narrative calls Cora "super hot" in a dress. I really do understand why she did it, but it still bothers me a little. As much personality and wit the voice came with, I prefer voices in historical novels to not use language from centuries in the future.

The jacket copy hints at the possibility of a series but my Google searches didn't indicate this will be a series, so I don't know what's going on here. What I do know is that I enjoyed this novel and look forward to any other YA novels Kress may write.

4 stars!

What am I reading next?: A Shimmer of Angels by Lisa M. Basso