Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: Steel

by Carrie Vaughn
Start Date: 24 July 2011
End Date: 25 July 2011
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published March 1st 2011

Summary (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure.

The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate's life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.

Time travel, swordplay, and romance combine in an original high-seas adventure from New York Times bestseller Carrie Vaughn.

My Review:
Going into Steel I had read a lot of negative reviews saying it was unrealistic, the romance was lacking, and the characters were a little flat. Coming out of it, I'd say they were right, but I didn't care - I enjoyed Steel anyway.

The story was light and fluffy- not very realistic at all, but I wasn't looking for a realistic story. I was looking for something to keep me entertained, and that's exactly what I got. For one thing, the pirates, as nearly every review mentioned, were unrealistically "nice." Even though I know very little about pirates in that time period, I'm sure they would not act as they did in the book. That said, it was nice to have nice pirates.

The romance mentioned in the summary, however, was so underdeveloped I wonder why it was included at all. It felt very tacked on, like Vaughn felt she needed to include a romance that wasn't in the original story, so stuck one in later. The buildup was very sweet, and gradual enough to make me happy, but it didn't actually go anywhere. It seemed to just fade away into nothing. Not to mention, Jill was (understandably) so focused on getting home, it didn't seem realistic or fitting for there to be much romance. But really, there was one kiss that seemed to come out of nowhere, and then the entire subplot was dropped entirely. I was expecting not much romance, but I didn't expect to be as extreme as it was.  

Once thing Vaughn did very well was how she explained the fencing, which turned out to be an important part of Steel. She obviously knows something about fencing (or else did very good research), and it showed throughout the book. She managed to incorporate it into the story, explain some of the more technical bits, and make it seem like lots and lots of fun.

Overall thoughts: Although it had some obvious flaws, Steel was a fun and entertaining read, and Vaughn did some things well. As long as you don't go in with very high expectations, it will be fairly easy to enjoy as a light read.

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