The comparisons to the Disney franchise are inevitable Steel by Carrie Vaughn follows 16 year old Jill as she travels back in time, and finds herself in the midst of a pirate crew sailing the Caribbean But make no mistake there are no signs of Captain Jack Sparrow here, and Vaughn lets you know in an author s note that it s deliberate.Her decision to make her pirates a little tamer than some of the vicious tales is also deliberate That s because than anything else, Vaughn wrote the book she wanted to write not what anyone would expect of a YA pirate book.The result is a story that the author clearly loves, and a heroine who is both tough and vulnerable in all the right ways Steel offers a unique blend of historical fiction, swashbuckling action, supernatural magic and a little dash of romance However, a bit of the romance might have livened up the story a , along with higher stakes and therefore higher tension The sword fighting scenes are pretty spectacular, though.Personally, I would have preferred either a much darker pirate tale some real cutthroats, dangerous situations and higher stakes or something akin to Captain Jack But those are my personal preferences and I admire Vaughn s willingness to stick with what she wanted, and not cater to any expectations.Steel is also something unique to YA literature there aren t many pirate stories written for teens, and Vaughn does a good job of balancing the glamorous aspects sword fighting FTW with the mundane swabbing decks a LOT And while she admits the historical accuracy is not 100% reliable, Vaughn does offer readers a glimpse at life in the Caribbean during the 18th century. This book was very entertaining but I also found it very unoriginal and bland As a lover of pirate books and movies, I felt this was too similar to other works maybe if I read this a long time ago, I would have loved it There are a lot of elements to Steel that seem as if its bound to be a win Fencing Pirates Time travel A touch of romance They re all there But I never really connected to Steel the way I would have liked.I mean, it was enjoyable enough, but there were some things that held me back and created a bit of a disconnect Jill was a bit too moody and petulant for me I get that she s a teen and probably a spoiled rich one who else fences , and I get that super competitive people are really hard on themselves and can get pretty pissy when they don t do as well as they want anticipate But that s part of why I m not friends with a lot of super competitive people I don t want to watch you sulk, or listen to you bitch and moan.And realistically, I think this was part of the point Not only is it part of Jill s character, but it s this whole transformative growth mumbojumbo wherein Jill realizes that losing a fencing match is maybe not so important in the grand scheme of things And her turnaround begins pretty quickly, so it really shouldn t bother me the way it does But the fact is, the Jill I met in the beginning of the story stayed with me throughout in my head, at least and prevented me from really loving the book It felt a little too after school special, and I ve always doubted that the spoiled rich kids who learn the value of blahblahblah in those specials actually change and remember said value for long.Now, lest you think I completely dislike Jill, let me correct you I did like her and root for her, but part of that, I think, was just that she s the main character and therefore who I was supposed to root for My irritation with her was for the most part slight, but it was there, and it contributed to my mehness about the book Also a contributing factor was the unreality of it all I mean, yes, she s a fencer and she ends up on a pirate ship where she learns where her skills really come from, historically, and how to put them to good use and actually swordfight, not just playact, and golly isn t that swell But I never had a real sense of time in the book was she there days Weeks Months I don t frakking know , so I found it sort of silly when everyone is willing to let her fight Mr Big Bad She s a high school fencer, for jeebus sake I think it would have taken him about.02 seconds to run her through in reality Again, it was kind of after school special which I ve just realized abbreviates to ASS , and I just didn t buy it I think maybe younger kids, tweens and early teens, would eat this up and not have a problem with the lack of believability in this respect, but it nagged at me.Those two larger things aside, I liked the book well enough, though I never felt compelled to read it The piracy was rollicking and fun, and pretty well researched, I d say though a bit sanitized , and there was a good feel to the book, a good sense of place Whether in the Caribbean or on the ocean, it all felt very scenic and pretty fully realized, and I enjoyed that The reader gets to learn the world and explore it through Jill, and from that aspect it worked for me In the end, I didn t feel it was a waste of my time, but it didn t keep me on the edge of my seat, either I think it will find a welcome audience with younger girls, and I think seeing strong women like Pirate Queen Marjory Cooper and Jill later in the book, when she s left bratty behind will be welcome to the young girls who do read it But I wanted , and have a feeling it will fade from memory pretty quickly. Well, shiver me timbers this was better than I had expected matey The Good C mon it s about pirates Female hero who actually fightsThe rapier s story and historyThe charactersFeeling connected to our main character and knowing what she was thinking and feeling.It was fun Original.The bad A little bit pirates of the Caribbean girl style for me And, the fact that in the Author s Notes in the back she specifically says her pirates are not movie pirates Disagree.It wasn t as exciting as you d think, there wasn t as much fighting, stealing, boozing it up and getting rowdy as you would think A little to girl power with the captain being a strong woman as well as Jill.The light dusting of a love story was just a little too weak, I wasn t expecting marriage or anything, but she kept hinting at Jill and Henry, so it felt like it would go somewhere.Predictable.Even though it was fun, at times I found myself skimming pages and getting a little bored with the monotonous routine the book fell into Should you read this, you ask I d say yes It is very quick and easy to read It s definitely not a classic , but it was good, clean fun If you liked Voices of Dragons I believe you would like this one 3.5 stars I will leave you with a pirate joke, just because I m crazy like that Why could the pirate not get into the movie Because it was rated ARRRRRRRR Let s take a moment and gaze upon the awesomeness that is the cover of Steel The girl with the calm, steady gaze a determined glint in her eyes, I d say and the sparkly sword The two things together promise a novel that is full of bad assery and will have you at the edge of your seats as you travel the seas, fighting pirates and finding love.The reality is a lot different.I was excited to read this book When my hold finally came in, I went to the reserve shelf, got it in my hands and did a subtle happy dance right there and then oblivious to the many looks I was getting I was that excited I started reading this right after I read The False Princess which is seriously awesome, go read it and so, my expectations were high, way up in the stratosphere over there I mean, honestly, how could you go wrong You have pirates, swords, a potentially tough heroine and time traveling These things are already awesome by themselves so putting them all together in one book should just make the awesome factor go crazy Right Well, not really.There s nothing wrong with the writing but there s nothing right with it either I kept on rehashing my reaction to the novel, trying to figure out what about it made me just simply not care And I finally realized that there were two main things 1 I couldn t connect to the main character She s just too drab There s nothing about her that provokes a response in me So she loses a fight Okay, fine, it s tough, you worked hard, you still lost and now you don t know whether to continue with the sport So what How does that separate you from all the other millions of kids working towards their dreams and often failing to achieve it The general apathy the main character has towards life and everything else is contagious and pretty soon, I found myself struggling to continue reading There s no joie de vivre about her She has nothing refreshing to offer and it s not just her All the characters in the novel are static people that the reader me is simply unable to connect with They retain an emotional distance so I am able to read them but I simply am not moved by their lives and their stories They are explored at a superficial level and it is as though they either do not have the depth necessary for a greater engagement or the author was not interested in making one.2 The plot So, we are on a pirate ship captained by a pirate queen, yeah You d think we d be going around raiding ships, doing pirate y things and generally being awesome, right Well, you d be wrong I get it, okay I understand that scrubbing a ship is important but come on now We spend about 124 pages doing nothing but scrubbing and at some interval, rescuing slaves from a slaver ship Which is heroic and all but even that sequence had action lacking If the main character is not scrubbing, she is whining about returning home and that whole mythology is never explained in any satisfying detail The main character s tepidness reaches new highs when at the denouement of the novel, she returns to her home without even the most cursory twinge in her feelings The love interest is really I don t see the point of him as his role is not developed at all and he barely makes it past the fan service mark.In conclusion, this book was a huge disappointment I had expected so much than it delivered I don t know if the author was having an off day or something but people assure me her other books are awesome, so I shall try another one Would I recommend it to you To be honest, no Do I tell you not to read it Of course not Make up your own mind. YA books do not have to be all Disney They can deal with hard issues, tough situations, and difficult consequences all while being age appropriate, well written, and still entertaining Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a perfect example of that This book, like many other YA novels coming out right now, takes what would normally be an extreme situation fraught with danger and dumbs it down to a series of easily survivable occurrences, unusually helpful people, and settings that are never as dangerous as they should be This book is a perfect example of this Steel is about at teen girl who is mysteriously transported through time from current day to the Pirate laden waters of the Caribbean in the late 17th century This was a time period rife with slavery, thievery, murder, illness, and death, but in this book the only injuries were a few cuts and bruises, an amputated arm, and NOT A SINGLE DEATH Really I mean come on, in this time period, with these people, in these situations not a single death Basically this was my biggest problem with this book I don t see why authors feel the need to make their YA books so innocent Yes children read these books, but that doesn t mean we need to treat them as unable to understand such issues, especially when this plot in general should be full of these types of issues Other problems I had with this book was the unexplained circumstances of Jill s time travel or the sword s powers You never quite understand how Jill made it this time period, or the extent of the swords abilities Finally the characters were a final nail in the cofin so to speak, they were so one dimensional it hurt Each had a single quirk and that was the only thing that kept them from being a blank slate Overall this book is better for super young kids who are extremely sheltered from anything real or just want to read absolutely anything that deals with pirates I guess I should have just assumed I wouldn t like this book since I strongly dislike Vaughn s Kitty the Wereworlf books anyways. I think I am going to be kinder in this review then I want to be for two reasons mostly.I read this book after reading a fantastic novel with pirates, seafaring terms and a cast of brilliant characters.I really, really loved the cover It s gorgeous.In Steel, Carrie Vaughn sets up a story about Jill, a fencing student who just barely falls short of making the mark The chapter titles are fencing terms, which is interesting in itself and sets the mood for each chapter well.However, it also means that the story is set up to fall into predictability right from the start With a turn of the page, young Jill is whisked back in time and found by a band of polite pirates These aren t the pirates you see in the Pirates of the Carribean movies, these are a much toned down set of sort of ruffians complete with a female captain who seeks another pirate captain.Vaughn, in her author s notes, openly admits to some far reaching ideas being present in her book She couldn t resist, she said, but far reaching ideas don t necessarily make for a good story In this case, it seemed sort of ridiculous and like I was peering into someone s flight of fancy.That all said, this book would definitely capture the imagination of the younger Young Adult set There s nothing objectionable in the book, it s filled with action, a touch of history and some interesting information about fencing I just can t see any of the older YA set really enjoying this book without some rolling of the eyes. Rating 4.5 5Jill is in love with fencing but after losing a very important game she retreats in the Bahamas with her family There she finds a tip of a broken rapier in the sand and realizes it s a 300 year old piece of history so of course she holds on to it After an accident, involving a boat and some crazy waves, she ends up on board a pirate ship, at the time where the rapier tip came from All aboard This is the perfect read for people like me that love pirates and good swordfights Jill is thrown in the middle of a pirate s everyday life and along with her we learn all these bits and pieces about how a pirate ship worked, the pirate honor and swordfights I loved every single thing we got to learn in this book and there was plenty Jill was a great main character, dying to get back home and struggling with her new life, knowing that she is not pirate material All the secondary characters were great too I loved the crew There was Captain Cooper, a fierce pirate queen, Ade her right hand, Henry a cute pirate that Jill had a little crush on and then there were people on the crew that weren t that good, they are pirates after all But the one I did enjoy the most was Cooper, sorry, Captain Cooper.She was fierce and kick ass and had a very tragic past, still she had her tender moments and everyone from the crew loved and feared her at the same time.This book is filled with sailing, swordfights and ship raids as someone would expect from a book about pirates There is the light romance between Jill and Henry but I kind of saw them like good friends than anything else This book is not about romance it truly is about the pirates and their lives, and how going through all of it changed Jill, and that s why I loved it so much I recommend this to anyone who loves pirates and wants a fast, action packed book that will teach you something in the end. Unfortunately, this was a huge disappointment I stopped reading at about 75 pages, simply because I was overcome with how heinous this all was And my reading resolution for 2015 is to not waste time on books that I do not enjoy Trust me, I did not remotely enjoy this one.With that being said, en garde to the reasons I detested this novel.1 The watered down plot When I think of pirates, I want the gritty, dangerous, and driven by greed variety Something along the lines of Pirates of the Caribbean would suffice just fine Instead, Carrie Vaughn introduces us readers to cutesy Disney bullshit Pretty much all the pirates are helpful and kind hearted These aren t villainous people out to pillage and plunder as real pirates would have done Really, they re normal people, just like you and I, with a sensitive side Look, they can even be cuteA young man stepped forward, and Jill s heart jumped a little He was cuteAthletic, skin the color of a rich brown wood, short black hair, and a wry smile No matter the fact that Jill was about to DUEL this man It s okay though He s cute It will obviously work outExcessive eye rolling Just because something falls under the category of Young Adult does not give the author an excuse to dumb things down or make them suitable for five year olds Plus, not every story needs a cute boy to fulfill the slot of love interest Frankly, in this scenario, it seemed inappropriate and random 2 JillFirst of all, I hate that name Loathe it entirely, actually It s plain and boorish and it too seems to be made simple as to appease younger audience s pronunciation Anyhow, Jill is one of the most flat and underdeveloped characters I ve encountered.Aside from her ability to fence and whine for hours even though she s on a vacation in the Bahamas with her family I know absolutely nothing about her She s a two trick pony, apparently From what I ve gathered she doesn t even give much thought about her family, aside from her mother excessively caring about how she s doing the horror and how excited her younger siblings are about the trip The most I got from Jill is that she s a self centered brat Maybe she found redemption on the boat, complete with a kiss and a heat wrenching finale Who knows.Likewise, Jill is just dumb When she falls off the party boat with her family, she warps time and ends up being pulled out of the water by a couple pirates Three hundred years in the past They pull her out, she gets on their little lifeboat and sits calmly The entire time they re paddling back to the main ship, she just sits there and thinks it might be a ruse and part of the party scene No matter that she can t see her family anywhere, there s debris everywhere, and she has no idea where the large ship came from.Face, meet palm.The writing Middle grade, at best Lots of Jill said or she said No diversity No elaborate prose Straightforward and mind numbing Again, just because something is YA doesn t mean this age group can t handle well crafted sentences and words bigger than one syllable. 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 HerThis Was The Tip Of A RapierSixteen 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 TreasureThe 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 CaptainTime Travel, Swordplay, And Romance Combine In An Original High Seas Adventure From New York Times Bestseller Carrie Vaughn