Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge

Title: The Iron Thorn
Author: Caitlin Kittredge
Genre: YA Steampunk/Fantasy
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Length: 492 pages
Original Publishing Date: February 22nd, 2011
Series: Iron Codex #1
Where I got it: Audiobook from the e-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft's epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day.

Aoife Grayson's family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.

Main characters: 3.5/5

Aoife is a well-rounded main character who I generally liked. She had a lot of different facets to her and I found myself connecting with her in a lot of different ways. That being said, Aoife could often be judgmental and she had a nasty quick temper. She definitely shows her flaws in a big way through the novel. Although I disliked her sometimes, I also appreciated that Kittredge gave her these flaws and problematic tendencies and traits.

But can we talk about her name? Her brother's name is Conrad and her name is Aoife? It seemed very random to have such a hard to pronounce and unusual name.

Secondary characters: 2.5/5

For most of the story, I was pretty disenchanted with Cal. He was this tag-along character who didn't bring anything to the table. His little twist made me think more. I wasn't sure what I thought about it, but at least it added some complexity and depth to Cal that didn't really exist there before.

Dean (first of all, hello Gilmore Girls images in my head) was that stereotypical bad boy love interest, but I'm not ashamed to say that I did love him. He was the perfect mix of sweet and bad and he was the perfect foil to Aoife and her flightiness.

There were some other minor characters that popped up but for the most part they were slightly underdeveloped

Writing style: 2.5/5

I loved the exposition to the novel: there was quite a bit of action up front and, though I confused about the world and its rules, I was excited and interested. It went downhill from there. Note that I am indeed listening to an audiobook, so if I'm not paying attention as much, things can get confusing. However, I found my attention wandering a lot in the middle stretches, and even when I was paying attention, I was confused

Another negative aspect was the excessive amount of description. Part of the reason my mind was wandering was because of the pacing. Kittredge could spend pages (minutes, for me) describing the same thing. No wonder I stopped listening.

Overall, I know that Kittredge can write well (based on the beginning), but it didn't come through in the middle section of this novel.

Plot: 4.5/5 
What an interesting mix of genres and different characters/aspects/etc. Kittredge portrayed the darkness of the steampunk genre well and I loved the way the fantasy aspects of the plot were seamlessly integrated with the steampunk concept. Sometimes I felt like the plot got a little bogged down in itself- Kittredge was attempting to do a lot and tell a lot of story in this first book, and I almost think she could have slowed it down and done a little less. That being said though, the story was interesting and Kittredge had a fascinating and innovative idea that worked well.

Ending: 3/5

There was a lot happening all at once. I was confused in some parts because so much came flying at me at once. The ending felt a little hurried. There was this whole big scene with Cal and then the major conflict and action scenes, and I became a little overwhelmed. Still, it was a great set up for the rest of the series.

Best scene: Aoife discovering the house

Reminded Me Of: Leviathan meets Wicked Lovely

Positives: Fascinating concept, strong female main character with flaws & all, some interesting secondary characters, evocative writing

Negatives: Underdeveloped minor characters, overly flowery writing and uneven pacing, almost too much plot happening, quick and confusing ending

Cover: Other than the fact that the girl on the cover looks super yellow and sickly, I actually love this cover

Verdict:  A fascinating concept and story make up for some of the weak parts of this steampunk fantasy crossover

Rating:  6.4 / 10 (4 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

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