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I Belong

Review: Steel by Carrie Vaughn

Title: Steel

Author: Carrie Vaughn

GenreYA Paranormal


Publication Date: March 15, 2011

FormatHardcover, 291 Pages

ISBN-10: 0061547913 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0061547911 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed byBridget


It was a slender length of rusted steel, tapered to a point at one end and jagged at the other, as if it had broken. A thousand people would step over it and think it trash, but not her.

This was the tip of a rapier.

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.

Quick & Dirty: This was a fun book filled with good action and adventure.  I love the cover and the synopsis was really intriguing, but overall it was a little disappointing.

Opening Sentence: Jill shook her legs out one at a time.


The Review

Jill Archer loves fencing; it has been a passion of hers for years now.  She just recently entered into a competition, but it didn’t go as well as she hoped.  She is now questioning if she should continue to fence or if the disappointment from losing is just too much to take.  About a month after the competition, Jill and her family go on a vacation to the Bahamas.  While there, Jill takes a walk on the beach to try and clear her head and she comes across a tip of an old sword.  She decides to keep it.  The next day she goes on a tour ship with her family and she ends up falling overboard.  When she is pulled out of the water, Jill is in the 18th century.

Jill finds herself on a pirate ship captained by the pirate queen Marjory Cooper.  Jill has no idea how she got there but she soon has to become part of the crew, and she spends her time scrubbing decks and learning how to sword fight for real.  The sword tip she found belonged to the evil pirate Edmund Blane, and Jill knows that it is somehow responsible for transporting her through time.  Life as a pirate isn’t what Jill expected and she is worried that she may never get back home. Will a dark enchantment, cute pirate boys, and a duel with an evil pirate captain leave her stranded in the eighteenth century for good?

Jill is our heroine in this book and she was a fun character, but at times I had a little bit of a hard time connecting to her.  She is a sweet girl and she’s not afraid to try new things which I liked.  While on the pirate ship she works hard and really tries to earn her keep.  For a lot of the book I felt that she had a whiny attitude, and it got a little annoying at times.  She also is a little naïve and immature, which made it really hard for me to connect with her.  I honestly think that she would be a great character for younger kids, and I think that it would be a great middle grade read.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, but I didn’t partially love it.  The plot was fun and full of action and adventure.  I enjoyed the world and atmosphere that was created, it was interesting and magical.  There was a little bit of romance in the book and it was sweet, but I wish that it had been a bigger part of the story.  I liked the characters, but they were slightly forgettable.  This is the  first book that I have read by Carrie Vaughn and I enjoyed it enough to try some of her other works.  I would recommend this book to anyone that likes a clean YA Paranormal, and I think that Middle Grade children would really enjoy this book.

Notable Scene:

Jill was still trying to slow her breathing, which came in gasps.  Her heart was racing.  She would have died, a wrong thrust and she would have died… And she had been so worried and frustrated about simply losing.

The captain’s voice was kind when she spoke to Jill this time.  “You know the forms well enough and stand pretty with a sword, but you’ve never fought for blood, have you, lass?”

Jill could only shake her head-no, she’d never fought for blood.  Not real blood.  Only ranks, medals, and maybe a college scholarship.  She bowed her head, embarrassed, when tears fell.  She wiped them away quickly.  Her still-wet hair stuck to her cheeks.  Salt water crusted her clothing.  However much she wanted to sit down, pass out-or drop the rapier, which she wouldn’t have been able to raise again even if Henry came at her in another attack-she remained standing before the captain, as straight as she could, which wasn’t very at the moment.

“What’s your name, lass?”

“Jill.  Jill Archer,” she said, her voice scratching.  She only just noticed that she was thirsty.

“And, Jill, how do you come to be adrift in the wide sea so far from home?”

The tears almost broke then, and she took a moment to answer.  “I don’t know.”

FTC Advisory: Harper Collins provided me with a copy of Steel. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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