Thursday, May 24, 2018

Review: Heart of Iron

Title: Heart of Iron
Author: Ashley Poston
Genre: Space Opera
Release Date: February 27, 2018

Ana was raised by outlaws, who found her as a child, adrift in space with a sentient android (or Metal), D09. D09 is an illegal android, still in possession of freewill, and, when he begins to malfunction, Ana will stop at nothing to help him. When the coordinates to the lost ship that is her last hope are snatched from under her nosed by Rob, a privileged Ironblood boy, she chases after him. After infiltrating an Ironblood party, everything goes wrong and they wind up fugitives on the run, both desperate to reach the coordinates for their own reasons. As they uncover secrets about the Metals, Ana's heritage, and a threat to the Empire itself; Ana finds herself torn between saving D09 and protecting a kingdom whose rulers want her dead. 

Out of Ten: 6/10

Review at a Glance: An entertaining if not entirely engaging space opera retelling of Anastasia.

Review: I never watched Anastasia as a child. I didn't watch really many children's movies as a child as a result of a long story involving Frosty the Snowman. I learned the history of the Romanovs and the Russian revolution well before seeing Anastasia, the widely acclaimed animated feature film. (I was a somewhat unusual child.) I only got around to seeing it a few years ago so I don't have the same sort of nostalgia attached to it that a lot of people probably went into this Space Opera Anastasia retelling with. So it is possible that I just wasn't the target audience.

This was my kick-off read for the Bout of Books read-a-thon and I... didn't hate it? The thing was that I wasn't really that impressed by it either. I realise that this is a space opera so there's a certain amount of leeway. It's more fantasy than science fiction. But the fact remains that it didn't really set up the parameters of the world. I guess it's just a magical thing that only royalty can hold the crown without it rusting? (With the exception of androids who, as one of the main characters points out, literally within the first 100 pages, which is one heck a legal loophole, and also seemed one heck of a Chekov's gun set-up, so I just kept expecting the android gambit throughout the book. Just. Kept waiting for it). The biggest difficulty for me was that the world wasn't really built up, on either a level of history or scale.

It was alright once I got used to it and let go of any expectations I'd gone in with. I didn't love the characters but they were at least consistent within their motivations. They overall just felt very simple? I think things that were supposed to come off as tragic didn't really because I just wasn't that engaged, and I felt like their relationships formed... strangely and for some of them quite fast as well. Rob just... wasn't a very interesting character and also for some reason his name bothered me (I think it was just the spelling), and Ana wasn't much better. It just didn't feel like there was much to them. I didn't dislike them but I didn't get... super attached either. I liked Ana's pirate moms though, they were cool and I hope we get to learn more about them.

 The story itself was pretty simple, the classic "girl is secretly PRINCESS," story, and, while there were other plot twists I didn't find them all that... surprising. I just kind of kept on going through the story going "ah yes that makes sense" I just didn't find myself having any really strong emotional response to the story.

All that said, I did still find the story interesting enough to finish and I'll probably pick up the second book when it comes out, I'm curious about what the author plans to do with some components of the story. Despite my not being super-invested in the characters, I still found following their story entertaining enough, for all it's cliches.

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