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The Iron Thorn (2011)

The Iron Thorn (2011)

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3.6 of 5 Votes: 3
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0385738293 (ISBN13: 9780385738293)
Delacorte Books for Young Readers

About book The Iron Thorn (2011)

I really wanted to like this book. The concept, setting, and world as a whole are very interesting. The steampunk aspect mixed with Lovecraftian horror and the necrovirus is intriguing. But where this book lost me was in the pacing and the characters. The main character, Aoife, is pretty good, although her internal repetition of "there is no magic in this world" in the beginning is not only annoying, but a dead giveaway that magic will be revealed as real later on. The rather forced, obvious, and unconvincing "love triangle" set-up between Aoife, her friend Cal, and the dashing dean Harrison bogs down the narrative on numerous occasions; the story would have been stronger without it. Cal is especially annoying and rather unsupportive of Aoife. While this is (sort of) explained within the last two chapters, it does not negate the annoyance he presents in the rest of the book. Dean is too obviously her eventual love interest although the "chemistry" between them feels so typical of teen lit that I wasn't surprised by it. The pacing, when it isn't being especially bogged down by "romance," moved at a rather glacial pace throughout 90% of the book, only to suddenly reach hyper-speed in the last 100 pages. The middle is spent at Aoife's father's house and involves far too much walking in and out of the house, various walks and talks with different people, and going in and out of the library. (It reminded me of those annoying parts in RPGs where you are trapped in a single town running all these side-quest and character-development errands for the NPCs.) The very last chapter flashed by so fast as to be unbelievable. A few more edits, some judicious cutting and tightening of the pacing, and I think "The Iron Thorn" could have been a really spectacular book. Alas, it rests in the "good ideas, but mediocre execution" pile. This book was very fast in the beginning, and I honestly enjoyed it up until I reached about page 200. Then it took me two week to get through the next 100 pages, and I am a fast reader. By 400, though, I read the rest in half an hour. I take a star away from this novel for the slowness of its middle section, but give 4 stars for it's originality, surprise twists, depth of characters, and stunning imagery.

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