Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publication Date: 3.1.2011
Genre: Historical, Action, Time-travel
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
I wasn’t sure what exactly I was expecting when I started Steel, but I don’t think it was this. Let me start by saying the cover is stunning breathtaking and while everyone knows not the judge a book by its cover, we all do it. Including me.
Steel is a very appropriate summer read. It has the Bahamas, pirates, adventure at sea, and a decent female lead. I was fascinated by how much I learned about piracy and sword fighting/fencing while reading. Carrie Vaughn doesn’t glamorize pirate life: it’s smelly, sweaty, and a lot of hard work for a few days of action. I have to commend her for not trying to make this tale a sweeping romance with a lot of flowery scenery, which it could have easily been. She has clearly done her homework on fencing, using the terminology frequently, but not so much as to confuse the reader. I appreciate that.
Unfortunately, the book had its drawbacks. Several times Vaughn used a single sentence to sum up what she should have described over several pages. Instead of explaining the ways the sails were hoisted or how the dynamics of the ship worked when the crew was setting sail, she would sum it up with one sentence. This happened several times. It was almost like being told a story from an actual person: When telling a story, a person won’t go into the heavy details, but I want these details when I’m reading a book. Another 50 pages of fleshing out these scenes would have gone a long way, in my opinion.
I also felt like Jill was a weak heroine. She tried to be strong, but I just could not connect with her. I couldn’t find that spark that would make me adore her. She was pretty, but bland.
Please don’t get me wrong: Steel is a fun book that I did enjoy. I just feel like it is more appropriate for the younger YA readers. The romance hinted about in the tagline is really more of a middle school crush that barely lasts past two pages. Blink and you miss it. If you’re reading this book hoping for a romance on the high seas, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re looking for a carefree adventure you can read on the beach on sunny afternoon, this is your book.