Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: Steel by Carrie Vaughn

GoodReads Description:
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.

My Review:

There is something you all should know about me. I am OBSESSED with pirates…I completely adore them. I have been a pirate at least one of the days of Halloween (I’m a college kid…we have at least 3 days of Halloween every year) for the last 3 years :D I saw all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies multiple times in theatres and countless times once they came out on DVD. I once bought what looks like an authentic (sort of ) pirate sword, and hung it on my wall over my bed…talk about conversation starter in the dorms ahaha. So I was SUPER excited to find this book and I was glad I did.

Where I got this book: Library…My library is fantastic. It‘s one of the best in the state and probably one of the best in the country…and they are super nice to me by frequently disregarding my outrageous late fees and  seem to always be putting in new requests for books all because of me . I have been waiting to read this book and was ecstatic when I found it on the shelves.

Things I liked: I really enjoyed the underlying fencing analogies and references. I have read a few different books whose main character was into fencing, but I could never quite grasp what they were talking about. Ms. Vaughn is the first author to allow me to actually understand things like foils and how to fight while fencing.  In addition, Jill isn’t this ultimate champion fencer chick. She is just a normal kid and finds out quickly that fighting for prizes and trophies is nothing like fighting for blood. The book also remained true to the period it was (mostly) written during. Though unlikely that all of the pirate kings and queens that we know and love would be having a pint together in Jamaica, it was cool to see them in action outside of their own stories.

Unfortunately, there were a few things that didn’t sit well with me. I was really irritated by Jill’s character. After losing a fencing match in the first chapter, she is moping for almost the entire book. Even before she was transported back into the world of pirates, she couldn’t appreciate a vacation in the Bahamas because she lost one match, a MONTH ago? Wow….what a total brat. Then once she get’s onto the pirate ship, she is STILL whining and continues to do so until pretty much the last chapter where she has some character development. Some…but not a lot.  Also, the actual transition between the modern world and 17th century Pirate-ville is confusing and weird. Sooooo… she falls overboard and when she surfaces its 300 years earlier? I actually had to backtrack just to make sure that I didn’t skip a page or something where all the magic happened, so I had a hard time suspending my belief and was a little jarred by the transition.  And finally, the romance between Jill and Henry felt contrived and weak. You could sort of tell that Henry cared for Jill, but you were actually inside Jill’s head and you didn’t get that she felt anything for him and then all of the sudden they are kissing are you are all like…what the eff???

All in all, it was a good book, the plot was interesting even though it stole a few elements from the other books and movies in the pirate cannon. I love how detailed everything was. She describes pirate behavior, sword fighting, and sailing very well, though it doesn’t even come close to the detail in the Bloody Jack series, but that is understandable because it is a standalone book. I really enjoyed all the character development that occurred in the last few chapters. Jill, Henry, Captain Conner, everyone it seems like is growing as a person. I really liked the final fight scene as well, though I guess I am used to bloodier scenes than that so it was a little tame. I believe I will give this book 7 and 1/2 swords out of ten! A piratical adventure full of fun and swords :D



  1. Great review! While I really liked the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, don't think I've ever read a pirate book before. And I like the fencing angle, though I agree with you that she shouldn't still be hung up on losing a match over a month ago. Move on already!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Sounds like Dobby is a lucky nook! ;)

  2. Great review! I absolutely loved the Pirates of the Caribbean movies as well, but sadly I've never actually read a pirate book. This one sounds interesting so I might read it. And the other pirate series you mentioned also caught my interest. The Bloody Jack series? That's also going on my TBR list.
    Also, I love this cover!

  3. Loved the movie! The cover looks awesome and I thought the plot was well-written too!