Steel by: Carrie Vaughn

Book: Steel
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary/Spy Novel


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.

Why I read this Book:

I saw the cover and it looked pretty snazzy, and then the synopsis with pirates and sword fights and a love story.   I was in!!


This was my very first Carrie Vaughn, so I have had no previous experience with this authors style of writing, no biases involved.

I was disappointed.  I found that this story lacked voice.  The main character was blank and boring.  The situation was more of a reaction of her surroundings as opposed to her own personal experience.  Sure she’s experiencing life on board a pirate ship, but the main conflict really has nothing to do with her.  She’s just caught in the middle, and this did not satisfy me plot wise.

You could look at the story and say that her main conflict was an internal struggle of coming to grips with her love for fencing and how she wants to proceed with that in light of loosing a meaningful match.  And in that light the elements did work towards teaching her how she was going to proceed with her love of fencing.  But story wise, huge yawn.

Love story – really it was so pitiful as to barely even count.  Sure they kissed, but it wasn’t earth shattering.  It wasn’t do or die.  There was no sacrifice for this love, it was convenient and it was just a kiss and just a night of cuddling, nothing dramatic.  I didn’t feel any tension between them or draw or pull.  I mean it might as well have not existed.

The writing felt sterile to me.  The description was mechanical to me.  There is a boat, and there are this many men in it and this is what they look like.  It never truly felt like the description was coming from the perspective of the MC.  Rather it was just there.

Final thoughts:

I was underwhelmed considerably by this book.  I read YA for that intense emotion or really quirky voice.  This brought none of those to the table and hence felt really flat to me.

Rating: 5/10


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