Steel by Carrie Vaughn

Summary: 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.

My Thoughts: After reading and enjoying Vaughn’s first YA novel, Voices of Dragons, I was pretty excited when I found out she’d written another one. However, Steel bored me. It was fairly formulaic and I predicted every single thing that happened. I like Vaughn’s writing style, but her plot in Steel didn’t interest me at all.

I’ll still be checking out more of her books because I enjoyed Voices of Dragons so much, but I wouldn’t recommend this one.

Author Website: http://www.carrievaughn.com

Bunker 10 by J.A. Henderson

Rating: 8 out of 10
Summary: At eight o’clock in the evening, 24 December 2007, Pinewood Military Installation exploded. The blast ripped apart acres of forest and devastated the remote highland valley where the base was located. No official cause was given for the incident. Inside Pinewood were 185 male and female personnel–a mixture of scientists and soldiers. There were also seven teenagers. This is the story of their last day . . . (from book jacket).

Commentary: More evidence of my increasing laziness as the summer goes on–I finished this book and started the draft for this review on June 2nd, about a month ago. Goodness. Let’s see if I can remember anything about this story…

My first thought is that it was a fast-paced, high energy read. Had me hooked every step of the way, and not just with action and adventure, but very intelligent twists and turns. It’s meant for the Young Adult audience, and reads a bit like it too–I guess the dialogue’s just simpler, characters not as developed, and the romance is very tween-ish. Not to say it wasn’t enjoyable, but it was just something very obvious that was there throughout the whole novel.

However the Young Adult factor didn’t take away anything from the plot and action. It starts with the end: the destruction and assumed death of all the main characters (super intelligent genius kids held in a military installation), which can make you kind of think “Well, what’s the point of reading this novel if I already know what’s going to happen to all the characters?” However, Henderson’s unorthodox beginning merely draws you in, and makes you want to know how the characters ended up in their seemingly deadly predicament.

I can’t say anything else about the plot without giving away the whole story, but I would definitely recommend this. The author kept surprising me throughout the book–very well thought-out, and a good, fast read.

The Jigsaw Woman by Kim Antieau

COVER the jigsaw woman by kim antieauRating: 6 out of 10
Summary: Antieau’s amorphous debut, having no truck with orthodox novelistic ambitions, takes the form of an extended feminist polemic. Keelie, still healing and unable to talk yet, awakens to the realization that she’s a composite of three distinct individuals, surgically fused together. Her head once belonged to drowned Anna, her body is that of poor murdered Bella, while her dancer’s legs derive from suicide Lee. Keelie has been created by Victor to be his lover, and she’s attended by timid medic Griffin, psychiatrist Hart, and Lilith, Victor’s deformed wife.

All of these people, as the young woman’s experiences unfold, are shown to be related by blood or marriage, through space and time. Indeed, Keelie relives something of the miserable lives and sad deaths of the women whose hybrid she is. But before long she’s seized by the death-goddess, Eriskegal, and commanded to remember everything.

Soon Keelie recalls a time in the South American rain forests around the advent of Columbus, where she and the others live in idyllic circumstances—until a ship bringing Victor’s brutal and domineering father arrives to kill or enslave them all. Later, in a prehistorical matriarchy beset by vicious patriarchal invaders, Keelie must persuade her warrior lover, Victor, to reject his father and his horrific conquests. Finally, as she remembers

Summary: I have a mixed opinion about this. The ideas were good, the progression was good, and the characters were all interesting, although I’m still not 100% sure about Victor yet (who was an obvious reference to Victor Frankenstein from Mary Shelley’s classic).

However it did get very preachy in certain areas, no subtlety at all. I alternately enjoyed and raised my eyebrows at the dialogue. Sometimes I liked Keelie’s spirit, but sometimes she bothered me as a character–again, too obvious, not very well fleshed out. The author was successful, in the end, of convincing me of the romance. Very sexual in some parts.

Very feminist. Great ideas, could have done with a little more work.