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Coming Soon:
~Review: The Killing Woods
~Review: The Waiting Sky
~Review: A Certain Slant of Light
~Review: Timepiece
~Review: Infinityglass

Monday, March 7, 2011

Review: Steel

Steel (ARC) by Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 15th, 2011
Pages: 304
Age Level: 14+
Source: For review from Publisher

Synopsis via Goodreads
When Jill finds a rusty sword tip on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued—and little expects it will transport her through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Will a dark enchantment, salty kisses, and a duel with an evil pirate captain leave her stranded in the eighteenth century forever?

Drawing on piratical lore and historical fact, Carrie Vaughn creates a vivid world of swaying masts and swelling seas, where blood magic overrules the laws of nature, romance is in the air, and death can come at the single slip of a sword.

I can't recall having ever read an actual pirate book except for possibly when I was a lot younger. Furthermore, Steel by Carrie Vaughn has more than shown me what I've been missing out on.

Though it took me a while to connect with her, Jill turned out to be a likable, strong heroine. The only issue I had with Jill was that despite her stating she didn't belong on the pirate ship, I sometimes felt that she'd forgotten about her family, rarely mentioning them. Other than that, I thought she was cautious and brave, when need be, and she adapted to her situation quite well. When there was trouble, she mostly knew what she could and couldn't handle. That being said, I thought the pirate crew members were particularly well crafted by Vaughn. They were rough and tough but also humorous and organized. The captain is Captain Marjory Cooper who is, yes, a woman. Surprisingly, she manages to do more than hold her own as captain of a ship full of rowdy men. There are even a couple of other women among the crew. Honestly, Captain Cooper was probably my favorite character and I thought she was very well layered. Then there was Henry who becomes Jill's friend on the ship after a shaky start. He was fun, bold, and charming and another character that I really enjoyed. While Henry and Jill do grow to like each other, Vaughn kept in clean and simple. She didn't try to make things out to be more than they were or rush them and I found this refreshing. Among some of the other distinct supporting characters were: Abe, the quartermaster and former slave; Jenks, the nasty ole first mate; Emory, the doctor kept prisoner below decks; and Blane, our bad guy.

Steel is a fast paced, action filled good time of a read that kept me turning the pages. Predominately set during the early 18th century, a time where pirates roamed the seas, Vaughn has imagined quite the adventure. The pirate community aboard the Diana was keenly constructed and laid out. There were guidelines that had to be followed and positions of 'captain' and 'quartermaster' are voted on by the crew. It provided a sort of depth to the lifestyle of piracy and I really liked how it wasn't at all cliche, even outside of the Diana. Also, Vaughn didn't reveal everything at once, concerning Blane and his connection with Jill, and instead, left it until close to the end before allowing all to be known, releasing bits of information gradually throughout the story. This technique kept me captivated and eager to find out what would happen next.

Vaughn's writing style was often beautiful and descriptive. However, I did run into a couple of issues with it. First and foremost, the third person narrative just really wasn't cutting it for me. For some books it works great but with Steel, all it did was leave me feeling slightly disconnected. Vaughn did a thorough job researching various aspects of this novel. I was glad to see the incorporation of technical fencing terms, however, I felt they were sometimes overused and this occasionally hindered the flow of the writing, in my opinion. However, I thought Vaughn did a great job on time period dialect and, aside from the two things mentioned, the writing in general.

I liked the ending well enough. I don't know that there is really much to say about it except that I guess I was expecting something a little more...profound. In general, the ending was appropriate and worked.

If you are looking for a fun and exciting pirate story then Steel is the book for you. Though a bit flawed in areas, I found it to be a very refreshing and worthwhile read that I'll most likely delve into again in the future. I already have Vaughn's previous YA novel, Voices of Dragons, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Characters: B
Writing: C+
Plot: B+
Ending: B-
Enjoyment/Likability: B
Recommendable: B

Overall: B

Cover: A


Cialina at said...

I'm definitely looking forward to this one since I have yet to read a pirate YA story! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Unknown said...

I've never heard of a pirate YA book, i might just go and pick it up noww.(:

Anonymous said...

I have really been looking forward to this one! I haven't read any pirates stories either. Sounds totally intriguing. Thanks for the review!

justpeachy36 said...

I like the cover on this one, but I'm completely sold on whether I would like it or not.

Mary Ellen said...

Thank you for the review. I couldn't decide if I wanted to put this on my tbr list or not. I think I will now!

Shannon The Bookstalker said...

Thanks for the great review Briana! I've been very intrigued by this one, I mean who wouldn't enjoy a good Pirate adventure? Can't wait to read it for myself!

Ashley said...

I really enjoyed this one. I agree that it wasn't perfect, but it was most definitely a fun book!

BookGeek said...

I love a girl heroine that can fight with a sword!

Eli said...

This looks like a fun read! Now I want to check it out! :)

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Georgia, United States
Hello all! My name is Briana, I'm 20, and I live in the beautiful state of Georgia. I love reading and photography.

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