Genre: Sci-Fi Age Range: YA Star Rating: 4 stars Series: Yes - book 1 of duology
Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.
Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.
When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.
What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
As it was a buddy read, this review is in a different format to usual. Beth (PlanetBeth91) and I have collaborated before, on Books to Read this Brexit Day, but a buddy read was completely new to me. I wanted to try HEART OF IRON after attending the Manchester stop of Ashley Poston and Susan Dennard’s mini UK tour so jumped at the chance when she suggested it.
I have a rocky relationship with sci-fi. I’m a scientist at heart, and it can be hard to switch that off so I get frustrated by the broken laws of physics. That, however, didn’t happen with HEART OF IRON. I was able to simply enjoy the world and ride, white knuckled, the rollercoaster of emotions – particularly the ending! The plot was so faced pace and kept me reading page after page.
The beginning was a bit slow and hard to get into, but as the second part kicked off, I was hooked. The ship’s crew could have done with more development, but overall, this was a brilliant weekend read. I’m really excited for the sequel, SOUL OF STARS, out tomorrow and we plan on buddy reading that too!
Having finished within half an hour of each other, a long conversation ensued. As it covered everything a traditional review would say, and is a fun way of doing a review, here it is (edited for clarity).
The conversion contains massive, MASSIVE SPOILERS for the book. I’ve hidden the worst with a “click here for more”, but there are still some before.
Sifa: I haven’t watched Anastasia, so there’s probably a fair bit I didn’t get – references, and clever plays on the original story. All I knew was that Ana was the lost Princess. Did it add anything, knowing the story?
Beth: There was Di’s human name, which is the same as the boy in the movie. Rasovant is clearly allegorical to Grigori Rasputin and the Metal uprising is meant to be the Russian Revolution. Really it’s sly nods that raise a grin. I don’t think it changes the overall enjoyment as it’s sufficiently its own story.
Sifa: I feel a little stupid now, like I should have got some of this as I have a basic grasp of revolution Russian history. I certainly liked it, despite not knowing the inspiration.
As for who Di was, I didn’t see that coming until he put the uniform on, smelt the sage and wondered why it was so familiar.
Beth: I know!The twist with the plague was so shocking, I did not see that coming! What happens when the metals are unhived?
Um, yeah, that is something to wonder about, isn’t it?
Beth: Honestly I think there’s going to be some serious chaos! I also can see Ana really fighting for rights for these poor people – the emotional shock wave through the galaxy is going to be insane. Akin to the undusting in Endgame!
Sifa: What was your favourite part?
Beth: Anytime Jax turns up
Sifa: He’s definitely a favourite character. Quippy but… my stars – he can’t touch you without a) seeing the future and only ever bad things and b) it’ll kill him. The kiss was CUTE and intense.
Beth: I loved the little details she included with each character, the way Jax smelt of Lavender and that his skin was luminous. The way that the captain’s hair literally blazes when she’s angry.
Sifa: Those fibre optic strips in her hair were so cool! Like a Christmas tree.
Beth: I know! I felt like the crew of the Dossier needed fleshing out a bit more as they were very 2D and we knew so little about them. Even though Ana cared so much about them, I felt nothing when they died.
Sifa: Other than Siege, there wasn’t really a lot to them. They could have been cut and not changed the story. In fact, it might have been a little easier than trying to remember which was which. EOS was cute though. Not quite sure what he looked like, but he was like their cat crossed with a small child
Beth: But honestly that was the one flaw for me.
Sifa: Yes – the big flaw. Though, the beginning was a little unsure for me. Not sure why – maybe because it was a lot to process and I was so busy so could only read in snatches?
Beth: It was weaker.
Sifa:There was so much happening at once, and I wasn’t quite sure where it was all going. As they were flying/sailing, it was my first real breath in the story, and I could appreciate the beginning – how much had been crammed into those first 100-odd pages – and the world. I was 100% hooked and invested from there on in.
I think that was my favourite bit; when they get on the Dossier and flee the planet (with semi-kidnapped Robb). As the sunsails were opened, and I realised just how CLEVER and AMAZING that world building idea was. That’s when I fell in love with the book.
Sail ships in space! Using solar wind!
Excuse my (not so) inner science geek, but!!!!!
Beth: 😊 sail ships in space was cool! I love how well she described flying/sailing it – I feel like space should be flying but people keep referring to it with Maritime terminology. It’s confusing!
I like how diverse the universe is too! PoC main characters, the LGBT rep. I’m curious about the layout of the Empire though. I mean not that I judge SFF on its maps or lack thereof but there’s always for more maps. Where is Neveah in relation to Eros? Where is Cerces? I like my visuals, Balzer and Bray!
Sifa: Yes – a map!
Beth: I’m curious to know why Neveah is closed on the HoI cover and unfurled on SoS’ cover?
Sifa: That’s Nevah? I thought it was just a symbol . . . Shows how much I was able to process at the beginning.
Beth: I assume so! We shall have to ask Ash! What is the significance or is it just pretty? I feel there’s got to be some reason. Is it meant to represent the moon lilies? That was almost romantic, except it was Robb and Ana and it was interrupted by the Grand Duchess over whom I spilt no tears. If that scene had been Di and Ana or Robb and Jax *swoon*.
Read our Buddy Review of the sequel SOUL OF STARS here.
Click on for more discussion, containing MASSIVE SPOILERS.
Sifa: And that ending; it was quite something, wasn’t it? Even though Ash did say she thinks people would be annoyed at her, I didn’t think she’d quite do . . . that.
Beth: Yeah. Oh my gosh. I’m not OK. Di is a cinnamon roll and did not deserve that! *Save Di, Save Di, Save Di!* Damn Rasovant, Damn his HIVE. SAVE DI.
Sifa: Poor Robb, poor Ana, POOR DI. ow could she turn Di evil?
OK, so that was an amazing, heart twisting pre-climax moment, but I was expecting him to be good by the end. NOT STABBING ANA.
Beth: He’s in there fighting though! She’s still alive. If he was totally gone she’d be dead. At
Sifa: I like how at first the stabbing looked like he was just gone, then the crew point out Di was their surgeon and knew the body – so the fact the blade missed everything was proof he was still in there. Still doesn’t make it any less *argh! He’s controlled by the villain and very little of him is left*
And him, not being human flesh means he can take the crown is… a final twist I was not expecting.
We were saying the beginning was the shakier bit, but the ending is amazing. The pacing was ratcheting up, and I was watching the pages flick by – noticing how close to the end it was going – and wondering where it was going to end. I was expecting it to slow down, a denouement section and all that, but it just continued to race. It made the surprise and weight of the finale land with so much more impact. I’m still reeling a little.
Beth: I know. I can’t see how this gets better.
Sifa: It will. It must. It needs to. Indeed. Imagine reading this a year ago and having to wait a whole year for SOUL OF STARS. I’m so glad we have less than a week.
Beth: Thank goodness. I’d be lying on the floor dead