Misty's Reviews > Steel

Steel by Carrie Vaughn
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's review
Aug 11, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: cover-appeal, historical, juvenile-ya, pirates, own, read-in-2011, timeslip
Read from April 28 to May 11, 2011

There are a lot of elements to Steel that seem as if its bound to be a win.
Fencing? ☑
Pirates? ☑
Time travel? ☑
A touch of romance? ☑
They’re all there. But I never really connected to Steel the way I would have liked.

I mean, it was enjoyable enough, but there were some things that held me back and created a bit of a disconnect. Jill was a bit too moody and petulant for me. I get that she’s a teen (and probably a spoiled rich one - who else fences?), and I get that super competitive people are really hard on themselves and can get pretty pissy when they don’t do as well as they want/anticipate. But that’s part of why I’m not friends with a lot of super competitive people. I don’t want to watch you sulk, or listen to you bitch and moan.

And realistically, I think this was part of the point. Not only is it part of Jill’s character, but it’s this whole transformative growth mumbojumbo wherein Jill realizes that losing a fencing match is maybe not so important in the grand scheme of things. And her turnaround begins pretty quickly, so it really shouldn’t bother me the way it does. But the fact is, the Jill I met in the beginning of the story stayed with me throughout - in my head, at least - and prevented me from really loving the book. It felt a little too after-school-special, and I’ve always doubted that the spoiled rich kids who learn the value of blahblahblah in those specials actually change and remember said value for long.

Now, lest you think I completely dislike Jill, let me correct you: I did like her and root for her, but part of that, I think, was just that she’s the main character and therefore who I was supposed to root for. My irritation with her was for the most part slight, but it was there, and it contributed to my mehness about the book.

Also a contributing factor was the “unreality” of it all. I mean, yes, she’s a fencer and she ends up on a pirate ship where she learns where her skills really come from, historically, and how to put them to good use and actually swordfight, not just playact, and golly isn’t that swell. But I never had a real sense of time in the book (was she there days? Weeks? Months? I don’t frakking know.), so I found it sort of silly when everyone is willing to let her fight Mr Big Bad. She’s a high school fencer, for jeebus sake. I think it would have taken him about .02 seconds to run her through in reality. Again, it was kind of after-school-special (which I’ve just realized abbreviates to ASS), and I just didn’t buy it. I think maybe younger kids, tweens and early teens, would eat this up and not have a problem with the lack of believability in this respect, but it nagged at me.

Those two larger things aside, I liked the book well enough, though I never felt compelled to read it. The piracy was rollicking and fun, and pretty well researched, I’d say (though a bit sanitized), and there was a good feel to the book, a good sense of place. Whether in the Caribbean or on the ocean, it all felt very scenic and pretty fully realized, and I enjoyed that. The reader gets to learn the world and explore it through Jill, and from that aspect it worked for me. In the end, I didn’t feel it was a waste of my time, but it didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat, either. I think it will find a welcome audience with younger girls, and I think seeing strong women like Pirate Queen Marjory Cooper and Jill (later in the book, when she’s left bratty behind) will be welcome to the young girls who do read it. But I wanted more, and have a feeling it will fade from memory pretty quickly.
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08/13/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Nafiza Oh I'm curious about your reaction to this.

Misty Uh oh. Curious in a bad way?

Nafiza No curious as in I found it to be terribly bland and I want to know if it was just me. :D

Misty lol. I'll let you know. I'm not very far in (she just made it onto the pirate ship), but her poutiness in the beginning was a little irritating. I don't dislike it so far, though, but I do have to set it aside to finish something else first, so we'll see.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I picked up this book and only read the first page and already I was annoyed. She is an epee-ist! It's so stupid! It would not help you at all at fighting pirates!!! It would be much more enjoyable if she were a saberist. Saber is by far a better weapon.

Nafiza Isabelle wrote: "I picked up this book and only read the first page and already I was annoyed. She is an epee-ist! It's so stupid! It would not help you at all at fighting pirates!!! It would be much more enjoyable..."

I think my biggest trouble was the pacing and plot. It was just whut?

Sierra Abrams Agreed, Misty. Definitely.

Emily I agree with your review 100% and enjoy the fact that you didnt just reiterate the summary like so many do! :)

Misty Haha. I used to start my reviews with a statement that if you wanted the synopsis, you could get that elsewhere. ;P

 Mummy Cat Claire I'm reading this now and finding it to be...mewh. I read more reviews on it and most everyone gave it 3 stars. my point: I think you and I have a lot of the same views.

rcrockett I started reading this book yesterday and I feel the same way. There are a lot of things that should make this book exciting, but I'm just not getting into it. It's been a "blaw" experience so far. Disappointing.

Misty Yeah, I expected more from it than I got.

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