Yearly Reading Challenges

This blog contains my book reviews for my yearly reading challenges. See all my reviews at

Monday, January 16, 2012

TBR Challenge 2012- Personal

Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook
4 out of 5 stars

TBR Challenge 2012: Personal Category- books added to the TBR list before 2011. Heart of Steel was added on Dec 23, 2011.
SFR Reading Challenge 2012: Book 1 of 15

Heart of Steel took a a few pages to grab me, and it never quite grabbed me to the extent that The Iron Duke did. In The Iron Duke the world was grittier and more detailed, and the characters were a huge presence. While the story in Heart of Steel can't be called light, it has a lighter feel. Part of that can be attributed to the the fact that so much of the action takes place in relatively civilized towns or on board an airship, but the biggest reason is most likely the character of Archimedes Fox. Fox is, at least on the surface, a dashing, open, and entertaining man. His personality lightens the tone of the story. Yasmeen, in her own way, is also a more open character than the often grim, determined Mina from The Iron Duke.

Yasmeen wasn't my favorite character from the previous book. Having a flippant, almost careless attitude at times, she came across as shallow. That impression continued for a while in this book, but slowly changed. The author does an excellent job of revealing Yasmeen's heart. By the last third of the book, I'd come to admire her strength and integrity.

Fox is always a likeable character, and Brooks succeeds in giving him heart and depth as well. At first I didn't understand the attraction to Yasmeen, but the motives are slowly made clear and both characters gain a lot of emotional depth.

More problematic for me was the politics and history. Keeping all the factions straight, and trying to tweeze out the often complicated political reasoning was a challenge. Someone with a better working memory wouldn't have this issue, but remembering details is a weakness for me. At the end of the book I wasn't quite satisfied that I understood everything that happened and why. It's a plus that Brook treats her readers as adults, and doesn't spoon feed them with info-dumps and idiotic dialogs so she can reveal all her thinking. On the other hand, a few of us might need some of that spoon feeding at times! I'll need a second reading of this book before Riveted is released next fall.

The writing was as excellent as before. Brooks has exceptional timing, a knack for dialog, and knows how to keep her characters in character.

No comments: