3.5 This one ended on a four-star note, but significant portions of the middle chapters were quite slow, with lots of repetitive, emotional hand-wring...more3.5 This one ended on a four-star note, but significant portions of the middle chapters were quite slow, with lots of repetitive, emotional hand-wringing. Insecurity is a major subtheme in the novel, and it makes sense that so many characters would question themselves, their talents, and their fitness for the roles they've chosen to fulfill in a fledgling kingdom. Still, the accumulated woes of a bunch of insecure people can be tough to take in one narrative, no matter how understandable their emotional predicaments may be.
Thankfully, what's great about this series is still very much present in this installment. Sanderson's world is rich, with a compelling central conflict and unique magic system. He also comes up with some great plot twists (a word of warning: do NOT read the official synopsis for Book 3 if you don't want to know how this one ends. There are major spoilers in that book blurb, and you're better off being surprised.) (less)
This is one of those books I feel I should have liked more than I did, but it just didn't have that page-turning appeal for me. While I fundamentally...moreThis is one of those books I feel I should have liked more than I did, but it just didn't have that page-turning appeal for me. While I fundamentally liked the characters, the world-building, and the setting, I found this one a bit too easy to put down. (less)
I was intrigued by the concept behind this take on Jane Eyre, and I'm open to new spins on old tales. Unfortunately, writers have a tough task ahead o...moreI was intrigued by the concept behind this take on Jane Eyre, and I'm open to new spins on old tales. Unfortunately, writers have a tough task ahead of them when they take on projects like these, because comparisons to the original are inevitable. Readers don't expect the same story, but we expect many of the elements that we loved so much in the source--and unfortunately, Ironskin's charms fall short of Jane Eyre's in every respect.
The world in this novel doesn't feel fully realized; we're given just enough information about the Great War between the humans and fey to understand the plot, but not enough for a feeling of immersion. The relationship between Jane and Edward rings hollow, because not enough care is taken to develop the tension between them in that slow, careful dance Charlotte Brontë choreographed so masterfully. Here, they seem to realize they're in love with each other because the author decided it was time for them to do so. (And truthfully, a number of teams who've adapted Jane Eyre for movies or television have made the same mistake.)
As individuals, the characters hold up no better than their relationship. This Jane isn't unlikable; she does share the bravery, stubbornness, and determination of her predecessor. However, she also comes up short. (view spoiler)[Jane Eyre never would have donned a fey mask after she knew its true nature; this Jane lacks that heroine's staunch adherence to her sense of right and wrong. Here, we're just told that Jane Eliot is a resolutely moral creature--mostly by her sister Helen, who's a dingbat with zero credibility. (hide spoiler)] And while this Rochart says some of the right things, adopts some of the quirky mannerisms, ultimately, I'm not sure why anyone, let alone Jane, would fall in love with him. The appeal just isn't there.
I'm not sure I can go with more than two stars because I couldn't truly recommend this novel to anybody. Brontë fans will likely be disappointed, and readers who've never read Brontë would be better off with another choice from the paranormal romance or historical romance aisle.