The Friday Society follows three young women who work for three important men. Cora was taken from the streets by Lord White to become his lab assistant where she was basically raised as a daughter. Nellie is the assistant to the Great Rasheem, one of the most popular magicians in London, and her beauty makes her quite popular also. Finally, Michiko works as a fight training assistant having left her native Japan in search of adventure and freedom. Drawn together by a murder, the girls will work together to discover the truth and save London.
This is the first steampunk novel I’ve read (unless Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series counts), so it’s not a genre I’m familiar with. I’ve heard others complain about the overabundance of details of clothes in the steampunk genre, but I didn’t find that to be a problem in this book at all. In fact, I found that any details given about clothes or gadgets added to the experience.
One element that I was unsure about, however, was the language: both in dialogue and in the narrative. The setting is Edwardian London, but sometimes the way words were used or phrased seemed modern to me. It was jarring for me, but again due to my lack of familiarity with the genre, I’m not sure if that’s an element of steampunk. If it is, I can see how it can add to the charm of the genre, but if not I feel like it takes away from the realism.
Even so, I did enjoy Adrienne Kress’s voice. She has a way of drawing in the reader and making them feel as if they and she are giggling at society together. Having met Adrienne in person at Fanexpo, I think this is proof of her personality seeping into the story. Personally, I am a fan of feeling an author’s personality in the narrative. It makes me feel as if I have a connection with the author, which encourages me to read more of her or his books.
I went into the story expecting that Michiko would be my favourite. I’m a huge fan of Japanese culture, and in fact I was super impressed with the fact that Michiko was a non-native speaker of English. I’ve never read about a character so constrained by language, but thanks to chapters from her perspective, readers still have an opportunity to understand Michiko’s motivations. While I did really like Michiko, it was Cora who stole my heart. All the girls are fighting against gender prejudice, but it is Cora’s subplots that hit home the most for me. The conflict she feels over a hot and heavy romance with a boy who seems unable to see past his own opinions was fantastically realistic. Almost too realistic, if there is such a thing. It made my heart ache in a way that only empathy with a character can cause.
I also loved the friendship that developed between the three girls. A focus on female relationships is still so rare in YA, and I thought it was a breath of fresh air. Many books claim to portray girl power, but this is one of the few that actually delivers on that promise. Nellie, Michiko, and Cora are heroes who join the proud ranks of Alanna, Katsa, and Eona and build friendships to rival the Gallagher Girls and the Sailor Senshi.
In The Friday Society Cora, Nellie, and Michiko learn that doing what’s right isn’t always easy. The way they don’t back down from a fight will have you raising your fist in the air. If you’re looking for a fun story with a healthy dose of woman-positive kick, I would definitely recommend The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress.
Don’t just take my word for it!
“Finally, a girl-power book that is actually a book about how amazing women are!” – The YA Kitten
“I requested this title because I think Steampunk is awesome and this book looked like it would have loads of girl power plot lines mixed with some good old fashioned kick-butt-heroine-style moments. And for the most part, The Friday Society lived up to my expectations.” – The Flyleaf Review
“I felt like I was the one running down alleys, jumping from roof to roof, and fighting mysterious villains.” – Appraising Pages