Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review: The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
Series: Standalone
Genre: Steampunk (YA)
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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. (from Goodreads)

'"I can't do this alone. I don't want to. Together we're unbeatable. Apart, we're just…assistants to men in London society. In other words, nobodies."'

Have you ever watched She Spies? I wouldn't be surprised if you don't even know what I'm talking about. Anyway, it was a TV show, on syndication ten to twelve years ago. It was about these three women who were criminals and were caught by law enforcement. They were then given a choice, work for the government or go to prison. Well, I'm sure you can guess what Cassie, Shane and DD chose. Really, the show seemed kind of like a homage to Charlie's Angels - just taking itself even less seriously. The show was kind of corny. Goofy, too. But it was fun.

This book reminds me of that show.

There's these three girls, Cora, Nellie and Michiko, whose lives become intertwined almost like fate. Or by the dead body they find on the street.

There's a few things you should know about this book - things I kind of wish I had know before reading it.

First, it's a young adult novel. I didn't know that. Yeah, goodreads calls it young adult, but I've read some of the books they call young adult and, well, I don't always understand it. I thought these girls would be in their early twenties (like 21-23) - but instead they're sixteen and seventeen years old. Well, that's makes my judgmentalness loose its leg to stand on. When I read the inside flap, I saw 'Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, combat instruction assistant; and Nellie, Magician's assistant' and was immediately wondering why they were only 'assistant's'. I mean, this sounds like it should have been suitably 'girl powered' enough, but… So I started reading and almost immediately had to eat my words when I realized that all three girls were still teens. In fact, in this day and age, would have still been in high school. It's like they're apprentices - at least as much as they are assistants. (And, this book actually being YA, makes the whole 'guys and the girls that use them' part of the story a lot cleaner than what I was half expecting. This made me very happy.)

Second thing you should know, that I wish I'd known, is that it's not - no matter what the tagline says - 'action-packed'. This book is actually a mystery. Which, surprisingly enough, serves me very well as it has been ages since I read a mystery where I didn't know who the culprit was upon first (or, sometimes, second) meeting. I was almost three-quarters of the way done with the book before I started getting an inkling on whodunnit (as they say) and that was right before a whole new and unexpected diversion diverted my attention.

This book is absolutely not to be taken seriously. Yeah, okay, there's a good bit of anachronistic talking, words that probably wouldn't have been in use (and certainly not in use like that) in turn-of-the century London. However, when you come across a chapter titled 'Just Your Average Turn-of-the-Century Slumber Party With a Dead Body. You Know How It Is', you realize two very important things. One: if you don't like the brand of humor, you won't like the book. Two: you probably don't even know when the term 'slumber party' was first coined. (Between 1920 and 1925, in fact. I looked it up.)

There is a bit of romance in the book - though it is something of a mixed bag - but, in reality, this story is obviously more about the plot and the girl's friendship than it is any romantic moments. That was yet another high mark for it in my book.

If you're looking for accuracy, you'd be best off giving this book a pass. However if you're like me and can ignore the inaccuracies when you're reading about independent girls in a man's world that band together to save London, I say give it a go and see if the humor is for you.