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Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (March 15, 2011)
Source: Review copy sent by Harper Collins Canada
When Jill finds a rusty sword tip on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued—and little expects it will transport her through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Will a dark enchantment, salty kisses, and a duel with an evil pirate captain leave her stranded in the eighteenth century forever?
Drawing on piratical lore and historical fact, Carrie Vaughn creates a vivid world of swaying masts and swelling seas, where blood magic overrules the laws of nature, romance is in the air, and death can come at the single slip of a sword.
Jill is a regular teen with a passion for fencing and is fighting for third place in a fencing tournament. As she faces her opponent, Jill becomes overwhelmed with pressure to succeed. Jill does all she can to outsmart her opponent and they each put up a good fight, until they hear the signal to stop. The match is over in just a few minutes and her greatest fear comes true, she does not win the match.
After the match, Jill’s parents try to cheer her up, but nothing they say seems to work. Soon after, Jill and her family go on vacation to the Bahamas. Jill wanders away from her family and walks along the beach. Something catches her attention hidden beneath the sand; she finds a piece of an old rusty sword and takes it to keep with her. When Jill gets back to her family, they all go on a boat tour where she falls off the boat and is transported back into the eighteenth century. She is saved from a pirate crew with a female captain and is forced to join them or be cast overboard. With little time to dwell on where she is and who these men are, Jill is forced to quickly adapt to life on a pirate ship.
Although Jill desperately wants to get home, she soon learns that she and the crew have a bigger problem at the moment; they are in the middle of a war. The evil captain on the opposing ship is searching for the other half of his sword and is the only one who can help her get back home. Jill is put to the test with her fencing abilities, but this time there are no protective gear and the swords are used to kill.
Steel is a fast and enjoyable read that will leave you wanting more. Jill is a genuine character who stays true to herself and gives her all throughout the novel. She is a strong character that excels easily in the tasks she is given by the captain and by herself. I feel that there is a lot to be learned from this novel such as overcoming your fears and sharing the lesson you have learned with others. Jill learns that sometimes you have to step back and helps others in order to truly help yourself. Although she was scared in this new world, she was determined and held her ground to overcome the obstacles thrown her way.
I enjoyed the adventure of Jill’s journey through this fantasy world. Having a female pirate captain was another great element in the story as historical facts show that it was extremely rare to have female pirates. It is evident in the novel that Carrie Vaughn did a lot of research into historical facts for some of the characters presented and events that occur in the novel. This would have to be what I admire most about Steel.
I believe Carrie Vaughn is a fantastic writer with a talent to capture her readers from the very beginning. Although this novel is geared towards young adults, readers of all ages will definitely enjoy this new world and the adventure Carrie Vaughn has created. I recommend Steel to those who enjoy YA Fiction and to anyone who likes a good pirate story.
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