Needs Work: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by NIkki McCormack

Series: Stand-alone (?)

Format: PDF
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA – Steampunk

Feisty teenage thief Maeko and her maybe-more-than-friend Chaff have scraped out an existence in Victorian London’s gritty streets, but after a near-disastrous heist leads her to a mysterious clockwork cat and two dead bodies, she’s thrust into a murder mystery that may cost her everything she holds dear.

Her only allies are Chaff, the cat, and Ash, the son of the only murder suspect, who offers her enough money to finally get off the streets if she’ll help him find the real killer.

What starts as a simple search ultimately reveals a conspiracy stretching across the entire city. And as Maeko and Chaff discover feelings for each other neither was prepared to admit, she’s forced to choose whether she’ll stay with him or finally escape the life of a street rat. But with danger closing in around them, the only way any of them will get out of this alive is if all of them work together.

THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT by Nikki McCormack sure sounds good on paper. A thief, a cat with a mechanized leg, a murder, and conspiracies all set in Victorian London. What’s not to like?! Eh, a few actually. 
For me the lure of Steampunk novels is it’s unique and fantastical world building, It’s like the Industrial Revolution on steroids where the world is getting modernized exponentially on one hand, and on the other there’s an expectation for society to stay as is, keeping tradition and heeding to rules of conduct and class. Quite the contrast which turns the characters into mavericks. 
Unfortunately THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT has close to none in terms of world building. Aside from mentions here and there of automated carriages, horses, etc. and the cat’s leg, I didn’t really feel I was in Steampunk Victorian London. The details of this world is left for us to construct and imagine which didn’t bode well with me. 
The dialogue also didn’t feel authentic. Street urchins like Maeko has a way of speaking and some people might take it for granted but I am particular when it comes of word usage and “book accents” on my historical reads. Aside from the world, how people converse is another device authors use to take us back to a certain time period. No cockney accent here. 
Now it’s not all that bad. I like the premise of THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT, it’s the kind of craziness that I enjoy reading. I love the chase, the process of solving the murder mystery, getting away from the bad guys, and redeeming some of the characters. Unfortunately the execution of the story fell short. Maeko could’ve been an interesting heroine to follow but she and the rest of the characters need depth, dimension, and layers to flesh them out. 

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47 thoughts on “Needs Work: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by NIkki McCormack

  1. I'm sorry to hear that you didn't like this. I was iffy about requesting it on NG and now after reading your review, I'm glad that I didn't do that. Not every book is right for us.

    Grace @ Books of Love

  2. The cat alone would turn me off from reading this book—yes, I am that shallow. LOL Lack of world-building, stiff dialogue, and a so-so heroine are a recipe for a 2-star read IMO, so I'm not surprised at all by your rating.

  3. The title of the book was enough to get me clicking here. Too bad it wasn't developed well, eh? I find that with plenty of stories, and they just usually need major tweaking, or to go off on a completely different path. I'm very wary of Steampunk as well. I love some of the books in the genre but I could not get on the bandwagon with the Clockwork Prince books.

  4. I absolutely agree with you! The way the dialogue is weaved, the way the dialogue is written, gives a lot of dimension to the book especially if it's in a historical or fantastical setting. If it sounds modern when it's supposed to be in Medieval Europe, I would be very, very turned off and it would show there as little to none research given. Thank goodness I'm not the only one who feels this way!

    Faye at The Social Potato

  5. It drives me crazy when a book just skims the surface of its genre, like steampunk or dystopia. That's why I got fed up with dystopians for a while- I read too many in a row that were too skimpy on the details of the world. The dialogue matching the time period of a book is so important, too, and when it doesn't, that also irks me.

  6. Oh I love that series! You're talking about Cassandra Clare right?

    I wonder if she had beta readers who reads a lot of steampunk because if she had I think one or two of them would've have mentioned some/all of my observations

  7. I'm so glad you got it!

    I remember when I was into reading historical romances or even epic fantasy it's the dialogue that I really really loved! How they make it sound so dirty and flirty despite the seemingly too formal usage of words

  8. Writing a fantasy book that's not of this time period is tricky. Not only does your world have to be solid and your dialogue authentic but the mannerisms are too. It's these snippets that suspends our disbelief… It's like when NA boomed too, a lot of books claimed to be NA but it's really erotica/pron hidden behind characters who are in their early 20's

  9. Besides than the lack of world building, nothing blows my experience more than unauthentic dialog. The Author is supposed to transport you to her world, and nothing brings me back quicker than that.
    Thanks Braine.

  10. I've only started reading steampunk and what I love about the genre is it mixes historical and science fiction! That being said, proper world-building and historical accuracies, especially accents and way of speech, should always be kept in mind! I totally understand why both of these non-aspects in the book bothered you Braine! That would've pissed me off too. I don't think I'll read this one, maybe this is more meant for first time steampunk readers? Hmmm.

  11. Yes, the ones from Cassandra Clare. I wanted so badly to like them but a few pages into the story and I just kept falling asleep. :/ The series I like is the Steampunk series from Kady Cross, and the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger. 🙂

    Maybe! You def have valuable inputs.

  12. Yeah this could be a good intro to first time steampunk readers. It's not a “drastic” shift of reality and they can slowly dive deeper into the genre. Too bad I'm a little seasoned now so my expectations are up to here.

  13. Oh it sucks that this one just didn't do it for you! I always hate it when I go into a book thinking i'll like it and end up not enjoying it 😦 I do understand where your coming form though, i'd also have problems with the qorld building!

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