Sunday, October 9, 2011

Review: Steel

Author: Carrie Vaughn
Published: 2011 by HarperCollins
Obtained: Library

It was a slender length of rusted steel, tapered to a point at one end and jagged at the other, as if it had broken. A thousand people would step over it and think it trash, but not her.

This was the tip of a rapier.

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.

First Sentence: “Jill shook her legs out one at a time.”

I picked this up at the library for a couple reasons. Books in which time travel is involved, is something I love, and it also involves pirates. Two awesome ingredients. The result? Not so fantastic.

Jill just lost a fencing tournament and is still beating herself up about it, even on vacation. Then she finds this fragment of a blade which she keeps as a souvenir. However, this blade piece is “enchanted” and takes her back in time. Rescued by a pirate ship, she is forced to sign the code and become a member of the crew (women crewmates weren’t all that rare apparently, and the captain of this particular ship is a woman). While trying to figure out how to get home, she learns of the captain’s on-going battle with another pirate captain, learns better sword-fighting techniques, and figures out more about the magic blade that brought her there. Also, she likes this one dude.

Okay, so picking this book up I was excited, but I knew it was going to be more “meh” then anything else, and I was right. It’s too short to have a major, highly interesting plotline or very well-developed characters, so it’s a good short read, but nothing majorly amazing.

The whole “what does this magic piece of blade do and how can it get me home?” plot aspect got highly confusing to me. That entire aspect, the main point, was so complicated and entangled that by the end, I barely knew what was going on.

Also, as much as I love romance (it’s hard for me to read a book that doesn’t have romance in it), I wish she’d left it out of the story. While the dude (I forget his name, he’s THAT memorable) is hot and a fun sidekick kind of guy, you just know they're romance is going to be for only about 2 days because she’s got to go back to her time.

I DID enjoy the way the author showed the pirate culture. While pirates should never be looked upon as heroes, the author explains the miserable conditions on the merchant/soldier ships and then contrasts that with the fair, lawful, and democratic ways of the pirate ships. The pirates also voted on all decisions and their punishments were fair. Overall it was a much better deal for a sea-loving man to be a pirate (of course, there’s the whole “it’s illegal” part of piracy) then a sailor on a merchant ship where whipping and brutal treatment were commonplace. When they found castaways, they made them either sign a code, joining the crew, or they were kept in the brig until the next port where they were released.

I don’t know. This book is a quick, interesting read, but it isn’t ground-breaking or a new recommendation of mine. If you don’t mind the whole “underdeveloped everything” aspect, go for it.

Content Warnings: Honestly, I can’t remember. I know there is one kissing scene.

3 Pigs

Blog Sig.


  1. Umm, most have been rating this book with a "meh," too. Maybe I'll skip it.

  2. Yeah. "meh" is a perfect way to describe this book. :\

  3. @Anonymous - "meh" can just mean something that wasn't great but it wasn't terrible. If something is "meh" it's just...whatever. Neutral feelings.


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