Monday, March 14, 2011

Review: Steel by Carrie Vaughn

Steel by Carrie Vaughn
Published by HarperTeen
Date Published: March 15, 2011
Rating: 4/5

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.

Time travel, swordplay, and romance combine in an original high-seas adventure from New York Times bestseller Carrie Vaughn.

If I was not as big a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean and Hook (We all remember Hook. It's one of my all-time favorites.), I would not have been prepared for this book. I think this story is coming out at the perfect time. We all still remember At World's End, and On Stranger Tides is only months away. I think she cornered the market on this one.

I wouldn't necessarily say pirates are popular, but they do have their cult following. Some may say they're into pirates, but are actually just into Johnny Depp as a pirate and that is totally fine too because Carrie Vaughn definitely wrote some male characters that will "shiver your timbers", ladies. Sorry. I had to. I can't promise that that will be the last bad pirate pun. I apologize in advance.

The story follows a teenage girl who goes on vacation with her family to the Bahamas, finds a rusted shard from a sword, and falls off a tour boat into the ocean with said shard in her pocket. *insert TARDIS whirring* When she resurfaces, she is grabbed by rough hands and pulled into a rowboat only a few yards away from an 18th century schooner aka a pirate ship. Confusion begins. She must be dreaming. That's the only logical explanation. That or hit her head on something underwater and is lying unconscious in a hospital bed somewhere with her family crying all around her and begging her to wake up. I guess the truth is harder to accept.

If you read the summary like any chronologically minded person would when reading this review, then you know the basic gist of the story so I wont go any further than I have. I really liked the idea behind the story. I mean, what reader wouldn't want to be magically transported back in time to witness or be a part of some part in history? Especially the pirating world. Though Hollywood has over-glamorized pirates for what they really are, thieves, Carrie Vaughn seems to keep that fierceness, yet gives us a glimpse into the humanity within.

I thought Jill was a very strong and well written character who grew as a person throughout the story, unlike some other books I have read where the MC is stagnant and boring throughout. I loved the pirate speak and all. I mentally took on the pirate life while reading this book. I could picture myself as a young member of the crew, maybe Henry, just being a witness to all this as it happened. The words just seemed to flow off the page like rum from a barrel.

I made a prediction about what was going to happen just from reading the first chapter and knowing, basically, what the story was about, but in the end I was wrong. Well partially. I just wish I hadn't been so consumed with believing that there was some easy-to-guess overarching plot line that would reveal itself by the end. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I think you will once you pick up the book and get into it.

In other news, this was the first pirate-based book I've read (excluding Peter Pan) and I really enjoyed it. There was action that got your heart pounding and a little love that made it flutter. It was fiercely fiction, while remaining pleasingly period. Disregard my terrible alliteration, it just happened spontaneously. I dont claim writing genius.

In this paragraph, I will tell you why you should read this book. Knowing the reading community pretty well, I can make a good guess that 90% of the people reading this will be girls. Girls who may be thinking, "Why would I want to read a book about pirates and sword fighting and a bunch of stinky men on a ship. It seems like a very 'guy' book." And how wrong you would be to think that. One: the main character, Jill, is, wait for it, a girl! Two: the captain of the pirate ship that Jill is on is also a girl, well lady in this case. Yes, there a lot of men in this book, but there is just enough estrogen to keep you girls interested. And for the guys, come on. It's effing pirates.

I promise you won't be disappointed after reading this book.


  1. Very nice review. I shall read it.

  2. "...there is just enough estrogen to keep you girls interested. And for the guys, come on. It's effing pirates." ROFL That alone makes me want to read this. Nice review.

  3. I love Carrie Vaughn and didn't even know she had a YA book out!

  4. LOL. Well, I'm definitely picking this one up because pirates are sexy! I'm really excited now. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it.

  5. Thanks for the review! This is now on my TBR pile!

    Somer @ A Bird's Eye Review

  6. I started this book, but was turned away when she was about fence with that guy (in the begining) and one of the first things she says is, is he is cute, or gorgeous or something. What? She just was pulled onto the pirate boat and this scary guy is attacking her and her first thought is he is cute?

    Though, I will read this book.Some day.

  7. Yeah, that did seem a bit gratuitous, but evidently teen girls eat that stuff up. Who knows. I was just glad there was very little of the "oh look a cute boy" scenes.