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."
My Review: I don't normally like steampunk books. Something about them just usually doesn't appeal to me. Probably the fact that they are so---obviously---historically inaccurate. But this book grabbed my attention so I decided to give it a chance, and I'm so glad I did because I really ended up liking The Friday Society a lot!
In a world where almost 99.9% of YA of books are literally all about romance and boys, it was so refreshing to read a book where boys and romance weren't the focus at all. There was a romance in this book, but only like .01% of the book, so I didn't even care that much. This was a book that promised badass turn-of-the-century heroines---and it delivered.
The three leading ladies:
CORA: Cora's an inventor's assistant. She's incredibly intelligent, pretty sarcastic, has a proper sense of decorum (though that's not to say she bends to society's oppressive rules towards women), and thinks things through well and hard. She was probably my favorite, because she was the one who seemed to most openly stand for females' rights and to prove to people that women were more than pretty objects, and were capable of complex thought and doing complex things. Cora was smart and she let it show, and I'm glad that when it came to the boys, she let her head guide her over her heart. Very sensible of her.
NELLIE: Nellie's a magician's assistant. She's sassy, flirty, funny, and energetic. She always has a trick up her sleeve and though she seems ditzy, she displays real strength and toughness, rarely letting any dangerous situation phase her in the slightest. Oh, and she has a heart of gold. Nellie was fabulous because she dispelled the notion that just because you happen to blonde, pretty, and fond of glitter, that you're an idiot. Nellie was far from an idiot and she proved many stereotypes wrong.
MICHIKO: Michiko is a weapons specialist's assistant. She's disciplined, a badass fighter, very rational, and patient. The author manages to avoid many "Asian women" generalizations and stereotypes. Michiko is no delicate flower, no crybaby. She's tough, she's a fantastic fighter, and despite the fact that she doesn't know English very well yet, she's quick as a whip and she still manages to understand everything Cora and Nellie say. And the author deals with Japanese culture very respectfully and thoughtfully. You can tell she did her research.
The plot is a little slow-paced and takes a good part of the book to get the ball rolling, but I didn't really care because I was enjoying reading about such refreshing characters. These girls want to be respected for their minds and for their talents---not for their bodies or faces. Also, the fact that a POC female character was used as a main character was very refreshing to read. The story takes time to tell but it ties together very neatly, and surprisingly, the mystery is a little hard to figure out---probably because with the addition of the steampunk mythology, the author could literally pull ANYTHING out of her hat next and you can't really anticipate it.
The secondary characters---Lord White and The Great Raheem---were also very interesting, and I actually did enjoy learning more about them. The many villains of the story---some obvious, some not so obvious---added to the fun, because there was more than one "bad guy", each of them bad in their own ways.
I've heard some people complain that the book is written too informally and the language doesn't match the period---but quite frankly, this is a steampunk book. There are already big changes in the time period. So who cares if the language is modern and the writing is informal? It was fun to read and I could relate to the heroines more easily. They felt like people you could be friends with.
I'm looking forward to the next adventure with the Friday Society.
Cover: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT! Words cannot describe how much I love it! Finally, a steampunk novel that doesn't feature the typical female waif in a sweeping gown with a clockwork corset, with long, flowing locks. I am SO SICK of YA book covers featuring girls in gowns for absolutely no reason; half the time, the girl never even wears a dress in the book. Ironically, in this book the girls did wear dresses so they could have easily done a boring cover with girls in gowns...but instead they put three really awesome-looking girls with really cool outfits and tough expressions on the cover. That is what initially attracted me to the book, the truly amazing cover. (Also---and this is just my opinion---the model who's representing Cora reminds me of Allison Argent from Teen Wolf, and Allison Argent is a badass, so that also made me like the cover a lot. Hey, they look alike!) Keep bringing on the covers like this, please!