may ➹'s Reviews > Iron Heart

Iron Heart by Nina Varela
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3.5 stars

Following the thrilling events of Crier’s War, the sequel Iron Heart dives back into the story of Crier and Ayla, Automa and human enemies turned… something else. A war is brewing as rebellions and revolutions rise, and Crier and Ayla, along with other allies, must fight for a world where Automae and humans can coexist without one causing the pain of the other, or risk losing more than each other.

Crier’s War saw beautiful writing, a slowburn romance, and riveting character arcs, and these are even more prominent in the sequel—I dare say they got even better. It’s a solid conclusion to the series, as well as the intricate, emotional journeys of Crier and Ayla.

“Strength isn’t measured by the ability to cause harm.”

As in the first book, Crier and Ayla were such strong characters. I loved seeing Crier break free from certain restraints and expectations that had been placed on her, as an Automa, but also as the daughter of the sovereign. She still has the sweetness and innocence she had before, but now it has morphed into something more passionate and determined, funneled into a want to help humans after the horrors her Kind has inflicted upon them, and it was beautiful to see.

I loved Ayla and her arc in this sequel so much, too. She spent her entire life with one goal in mind—revenge—but now she has to deal with the result of what she did (or didn’t) do in the first book. She learns that there’s no one way to fight, that there’s no one way to be angry and strong and defiant, and through this realization, a softer, gentler side of her appears. One of my favorite things about sequels is that it allows characters the space to develop more into a rounded person, and that kind of growth was beautiful to see in both Crier and Ayla.

I think the highlight of this book for me was Crier and Ayla’s romance. I’m not usually one to care about romance this much, and it’s definitely not the central focus of the book, but I loved it so much. They were slowly realizing that they didn’t hate each other (even after certain events of the first book), and coming to terms with the fact that they felt so much for each other, all the while still trying to deny it. The yearning was just so, so good, and I died at least ten times reading certain parts. It is just so very gay, and I could not be happier.

“You want her. Or love her. Or at least something close. Something just as intense as your hatred.”

Varela’s writing in this book is simply delectable. I’d forgotten how much I loved each word that Varela crafts—all of them feel so meaningful and valuable, and paint such a lovely picture of the setting, the characters, and their emotions. It’s elegant and fits the story so well, and it is so easy to devour and tempts you into reading more and more without you realizing. (Plus, the writing in some of the more romantic scenes made me lose my mind.)

Just as with Crier’s War, the themes that Iron Heart dives into were explored and written so well. At the heart of it at all (no pun intended), the series to me is about what it means to be human, and where humanity starts and ends. It is a book about intolerance, division, and war, and though it wasn’t sad, there were actually some parts that made me want to cry.

Even though I was physically reading it quickly and there were exciting scenes that keep me engaged, somehow the book felt like it was going by slowly. I also had a hard time with how some characters were introduced or included, but not much was explored with them, which was an issue I had with Crier’s War too. Another minor complaint was that the last few chapters felt rushed and anticlimactic to me, and the ending was a bit abrupt even with an epilogue. All of these made me feel like I couldn’t rate this a full 4 stars, but I really did enjoy this book, despite these small issues I had!

Because it’s you.
It’s you, the wash of starlight, the old paradox: if the Universe were static, I could stand anywhere in this world and I swear my line of sight would end on you. I swear I’d find you in the dark.

While there were some things that didn’t quite work for me with this sequel, it was not enough to diminish my overall enjoyment of and love for this book and series. With truly gorgeous prose, an achingly heartwarming romance, and compelling characters, Crier’s War and Iron Heart make an unforgettable duology. I am so excited to read all of Varela’s future works: I just know they’ll be as good (and gay) as this beautifully written series.

—★—

:: rep :: POC lesbian MC, POC bisexual MC

:: content warnings :: death/murder (of loved ones), violence, depictions of blood, use of drug-like substance, body horror [more details]

Thank you to HarperCollins for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a spot on this blog tour! This did not affect my opinions in any way.

All quotes are from an advance copy and may differ in final publication.
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Reading Progress

June 18, 2020 – Shelved
June 18, 2020 – Shelved as: to-read
September 7, 2020 – Started Reading
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: 3-and-a-half-star
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: buddy-reads
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: diverse
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: earc
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: fantasy
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: my-heart
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: ownvoices
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: pov-3rd
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: pov-female
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: pretty-cover
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: read-2020
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: rep-lgbtqiap
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: rep-lgbtqiap-author
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: rep-lgbtqiap-bi
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: rep-lgbtqiap-wlw
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: rep-bipoc
September 11, 2020 – Shelved as: young-adult
September 11, 2020 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)

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message 1: by el🕊 (new)

el🕊 Let’s go lesbians let’s go!!🥰🥰


Solace_In_Reading Forgetting happens every time for me. I am not joking.


Alice Tisch How can you forget


may ➹ Ella wrote: "Let’s go lesbians let’s go!!🥰🥰"

the gay is so strong in this book!


may ➹ Solace_In_Reading wrote: "Forgetting happens every time for me. I am not joking."

yeah any time i have to read a sequel i just wing it and hope for the best lmao


may ➹ Alice wrote: "How can you forget"

i’m very forgetful 😔


message 7: by rhi ✰ (new) - added it

rhi ✰ i always end up rereading the book beforehand because i know i'll be like ????who is this???? lmao


katie I still need to read the first book. Is it good? *me being late as usual*


may ➹ rhi ✰ wrote: "i always end up rereading the book beforehand because i know i'll be like ????who is this???? lmao"

i always just wing it 😎


may ➹ Katie (The Storybook Sisters) wrote: "I still need to read the first book. Is it good? *me being late as usual*"

yes i liked the first book!


 *~.*.~*autumn*~.*.~* OMG OMG *smashes fist into that "want to read" button*


message 12: by Sophia (new)

Sophia Dinsley Is Ayla...less annoying?


message 13: by Elle (new) - rated it 4 stars

Elle (ellexamines) okay I TOTALLY agree about the ending. It's super anticlimactic, tbh.


may ➹ *~.*.~*autumn_berry*~.*.~* wrote: "OMG OMG *smashes fist into that "want to read" button*"

hope you enjoy!!


may ➹ Sophia wrote: "Is Ayla...less annoying?"

i mean i liked her in both books personally so you’ll have to see for yourself


may ➹ Elle wrote: "okay I TOTALLY agree about the ending. It's super anticlimactic, tbh."

GOD yeah especially when there were so many other exciting things going on for the whole book


dezzy ahhh i loveee this review May, so beautifully written and encapsulates a lot of my own thoughts about the book 💓 i also rated it 3.5 stars bc of the anticlimactic ending lmao,, why did it feel so rushed and unsatisfying :') but YES Crier & Ayla have my entire heart i love them sm


may ➹ dezzy wrote: "ahhh i loveee this review May, so beautifully written and encapsulates a lot of my own thoughts about the book 💓 i also rated it 3.5 stars bc of the anticlimactic ending lmao,, why did it feel so r..."

thank you so much dezzy!! and yeah, there were just so many exciting things going on that the end felt so... disappointing :(


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