Thursday, April 21, 2011

Steel by Carrie Vaughn

Jill has always been good with a blade.  Or, at least a fake one.  She has practiced and competed for a long time - but now, when she has her biggest opportunity yet, she misses it.  By a half a second.  After, Jill is doomed to wallow in her self pity on an island in the Bahamas.  What she finds there, however, is remarkable: the tip of a rapier, rusted and damaged and old.  She pockets it, but after a strong wave on a boat ride pushes her into the water, Jill finds herself in a completely different world:  one of pirates, magic, and swashbuckling adventure.  And Jill has reason to believe that only the broken blade can return her home again.


My thoughts -
I liked this book.  It didn't shock me or wow me or bring me to tears.  It didn't carry me on the waves of love or hate or disgust or longing.  This story has a strong atmosphere - but that's about it.  I enjoyed the feeling of waves beneath me, being the only ship for hundreds of miles in a vast and unpredictable see, the salty sea-spray that was constantly in the air...  But it lacked action, determination, and characters to attach myself to.  I wasn't longing for more when I set the book down; I was actually happy it was over, as I'd started to feel the pages slowly creeping past, counting the amount left until it'd be over.

Character notes -
Jill is a sweet girl and she does have a goal in life, but she fell a little flat for me.  I felt like I couldn't see things from her eyes.  I've heard this before and I'm going to reiterate it - I think I would have been immensely more attached to this novel if it had been told in first person.  It needed that connection; without it, the book lacked.  (Again, I didn't hate this book.  I actually liked it to a certain extent.  It just wasn't incredible or even great literature.  Just good.)

Henry, Abe, Jenks, and the rest of the crew was very flat as well.  I really like Marjory Cooper and Edmund Blane, mainly because of the tragedy behind their story.  They added a dynamic to Jill's story that made it much more lively than it would have been without them.

Story notes -
The story was  I loved the atmosphere, the way Vaughn described life on a ship, but I felt like that's all I read for the whole book.  Until the last thirty pages.  And when it comes time to leave the ship, Jill's reaction to her goodbyes is just...bland.  I would not be that "ok" with everything going on.

Oh, and there is no romance.  I wasn't expecting any because of what I'd read in reviews, and I think I should give everyone a warning.  I actually liked that there wasn't a romance in this book...but when Jill kisses Henry randomly (after it has been hinted that Henry likes Jill and Jill's feelings have not been hinted at), all I could say was. "Whaaaaaat?"  Definitely not good story telling.  If there had been something suggested between them beforehand, on both sides, it would have been cute.  But no.

I also enjoyed the fencing aspects of this story.  I've never read a novel with so much revolving around swords and how to use them, so that was interesting.

One word to sum it up (final thoughts) -
Forgettable.  Because, unfortunately, I'm already forgetting.  I've moved on to the next book(s), and as Steel made no lasting impression on me, I can't imagine myself ever even really thinking about it again.  I wish there had been more to this story.


  1. I read this one a little while ago, and while I did genuinely like it while I was reading it, it isn't one that I loved, or that I will probably read again. Nicely written review.

  2. I completely agree with your review. I was left saying,...whaaaat?

  3. "But it lacked action, determination, and characters to attach myself to. I wasn't longing for more when I set the book down; I was actually happy it was over..."

    Pretty much. I DNF-ed it after 100 pages when I realized I just didn't care about anyone there and nothing was happening.