I think the annoyance factor has finally overtaken the entertainment factor. DNF @ 58% This disappoints me because I think with some more work this could have been really good.
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this one. So, I'll bottom-line it first for those that don't want to read the particulars.
In general I found this a fairly entertaining YA Fantasy, with a protagonist that was reasonably likable. The premise is a mix of very imaginative and fairly original ideas along with things reminiscent of, and done better in, Harry Potter.
The story is actually pretty good, although flawed. Writing has some issues, but it kept my interest for awhile anyway, and has imaginative, interesting, and entertaining elements.
I also must say, in spite of what some seem to think, including apparently the author, this story is not Steampunk.
Unfortunately this book also contains many glaring editing errors. It shows it was originally published in 2012. I bought my copy (for free) in 2015. I am surprised that the Kindle version has not (yet) been corrected to remove these obvious editing problems in all this time. I checked before writing this, no updated Kindle version is available. This is inexcusable, in my opinion.
This causes me to give the side-eye to all those who posted glowing 5 star reviews for this book (and the others in this series - which, according to other reviewers, have the same editing issues). Never mentioning this obvious problem. Most particularly those who are bookbloggers. They aren't doing their followers any favors by not telling them the truth. Most especially as the subsequent books in this series are not free. No one should pay money for books published in this amatuerish condition, most especially without knowing they're sub-par and not professional quality products.
I will also say that if it had just been the editing errors I might have stuck with this one, but there were other issues I had with the writing, which sometimes was fine, other times annoying. See below for more explanation on that.
However, this book is free for the Kindle version. If it sounds interesting to you, and you can tolerate some editing issues without wanting to poke your eyes out, I advise giving this a try and seeing for yourself. It's got something, it just could have used a bit more work and polish to bring it up to snuff.
What I liked:
MC is tough, sassy, and it gets her in trouble. She's not over powerful at the start. Her mouth gets her in trouble. Still, she doesn't whimp out. A couple of times she steps right in, not very wisely, but I still liked her for it. She tells jerkwad adults off with no fear, even one with authority. Which is probably unwise, but still I liked her for it.
The concept of magically traveling through doorways.
The MCs mysterious dreams, that appear to not really be dreams.
I really liked her group of friends, and how they each had their own personalities. I like how her friend Val annoyed Chloe, but then Chloe started to see a bigger picture and grew more tolerant of Val.
What I didn't like:
Lack of explanations. Repeatedly being told about her "brokenness" and being bad at relationships with no real explanation or justification shown for it.
Her contrariness regarding the Love Interest. She likes him, he likes her, she doesn't want to be in a relationship, yadda yadda. Fine. Then they have sweet moments, clearly she likes him, then poof she goes all contrary on him for no reason. I like that there isn't insta-love, but sheesh. I began to wonder what he sees in her, she's like psycho around him. And her back and forth about it in her own head gets really tiresome.
She also makes judgements about him, and regarding her, simply based on their preferred fashion choices. Which annoyed me. And her mentioning being "messed up" for which we're never shown any real reason for.
'I had a hard time imagining why he seemed interested in talking to someone as messed up as me. I didn’t exactly see a future with Mr. Wonderful walking around town with me in my combat boots, hoodie and dark eyeliner.'
The "Steampunk" devices. This is set in our present day. This seems cobbled in perhaps to appeal to Steampunk fans, but this is not at all Steampunk. It just makes this story seem a mish mash of things that don't really fit or make much sense.
Vague passage of time, and contradictions. Here's one example:
The MC, Chloe, is at her grandmother's house with her cousin. Her cousin is going out and her grandmother says, "Make sure you're home for dinner."
Chloe and her grandmother talk a bit then start making dinner (the cousin isn't yet home, no mention of time). Then, "When the stir fry was finished we sat at the table, ate and reminisced about my parents."
Didn't wait to eat for the cousin, who was supposed to be home for dinner. No mention that her cousin was perhaps late and it was past dinner time.
'I heard the front door open having completely forgotten about my cousin. She walked into the kitchen, stopped a moment to stare at us and then she walked over grabbed a bit of food from the bowl and nibbled on it.
“How was your night dear?” Gran asked her.'
So, either the cousin was back at dinner time, but they didn't bother to wait for her - which no one mentions, or she was late - which no one mentions - and her grandmother asks how her "night" was, as if she'd been out for the evening, yet she was supposed to be home at dinner time and they were just then eating dinner.
And her grandmother says, '‘Sounds lovely but obviously you didn’t eat, so sit down and have something."'
Well of course she hadn't eaten, she'd been told to come home in time for dinner.
This makes no sense.
There's a lot of telling rather than showing. And the story really suffers for it.
There are numerous missing commas, I didn't even bother to note them. At least three times the word "passed" is used when "past" is meant. I stopped counting the number of instances a question mark was used at the end of a statement and obviously not a question after five occurrences.