Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steel by Carrie Vaughn

I just finished this book this morning.  It's chilly inside and out.  The rain has moved in to stay, it feels like, and we haven't maintenanced the heater, yet, to warm the place up.  I might decide a bit of warm dust is worth the warm part, but in the meantime, it didn't hurt to read this book with cold bare feet.  I certainly identified with wrapping up in a blanket to get warm!

Steel by Carrie Vaughn
This book is “cute”.  For me, that is the best way to describe the nutshell of it, and it is as much a criticism as a compliment.
I enjoyed a lot regarding the story, especially the fencing details and the ship details.  Through-out the story, the research Vaughn did on the history of the time of pirates is obvious and I’m grateful.  What irked me were random comments from the writer like “this style of ship” as if Jill or the reader knew of various kinds.  Jill, as the hero, hadn’t researched various pirate ships to know one from the other, so this felt like the author inserting herself in the place of Jill.  I felt similarly when terms were explained as Jill was learning them and then still generalized, as if the concept was too complicated to understand, when, in fact, I learned right along with Jill just fine.  The extra hand-holding made me feel as if the writer had a specific age group in mind, maybe, and I stumbled upon her book by accident.
I just want to add to that more because the concept was exciting enough for anyone.  Getting pulled 300 years back in time and learning how to survive is an exciting premise.   There is no reason for the author to talk down to the reader like we can’t follow along.  I really can’t say the author meant to do that, so I felt rather that this book was produced before enough refining was done to it. 
The conflicts are well thought out.  One conflict sets the stage for another so that a good grasp of life as a pirate is conveyed through the exciting drama all the way to the end.  I was never overly concerned that Jill wouldn’t find a way back home.  But on the other hand, I really enjoyed how Jill discovered how much she loved and enjoyed her family, who had previously irritated her.   I mean, how real is that?  Perfect.
Altogether the book came off to me as a little simplistic, although skillfully concepted.  Therefore, I have made up a new rating for it:  Cute.  It’s a fast read, for sure, and a tease for getting into fencing or historical pirates.  I am interested in reading Vaughn’s Kitty books.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find the candid flow without the condescension.  I do hope.

PS - isn't the cover totally cool?