- my rating: 3.5 stars
- published by: Balzer & Bray
- genres: sci-fi, retelling
- diversity: two queer male side characters
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?
I didn’t go into this book with many expectations. I enjoy the Anastasia is alive conspiracy, and also the Anastasia animated movie and that was pretty much all I had to base my expectations off going in.
I was really entertained by this book. It was addictive and fun and kept me coming back to it. But I was also perpetually frustrated by the potential this book had that it really didn’t capitalise off.
The thing is, my opinion on this book is overall positive, and I’m actually really really excited for the sequel. But at the same time I think Heart of Iron was missing some elements that really could have made it a new favourite.
The characters were my favourite part of this book. I really enjoyed reading about every single one of them and found myself falling in love with them. If I like characters in a book it’s a sure sign I’ll feel positively about the book overall and thats basically what happened here. Ana, Robb, Jax and D09 were all really fun characters to follow and were all reasonably fleshed out.
There is definitely a lot of room for these characters to develop which I actually think is good – it gives me something to come back for in book two. I also was very on board with the romance things going on here and basically wanted everyone to kiss which really made me like everything more.
The plot was probably the primary let down of this book, mostly because the worldbuilding is … lacking. I really think there needed to be a lot more thought and care put into how the world functioned and what the culture and ideals of the people were. It feels very much like the author just thought “it’s space. There’s stars and rockets you get it” but I don’t. I need more then that. I also think what we did get was very generic.
The phrase “iron and stars” was repeated so many times and yet the explanation behind the sentence never came, which was annoying and again shows more work with worldbuilding needed to be done.
The plot did move fast, which I liked, but lots of it was very predictable. If you know the Anastasia story you basically know every single thing that is going to happen before you even start the book. I understand that isn’t the authors fault entirely but I think a surprise would have been nice.
However, the reason I think this book was good was actually because I can see the set up for the whole series in my mind. I can see the fun and exciting places the author can take this book. I can see the potential character development and situations that might occur next. And all those things excite me.
I really liked the characters so I definitely plan on reading book two, and honestly if book one can convince me to read book two it’s already doing better then lots of series.
Overall, Heart of Iron is far from being a perfect book. It has some elements that worked great and some that really didn’t work as well. But it was entertaining and had me turning the pages which really is a good start. I genuinely enjoyed reading about the characters so much and I think with a little improvements, especially to world building, this series has really great potential.
If you’re looking for a fun, easy to read romp through space I recommend this. Especially if you enjoy Anastasia and/or Treasure Planet. Maybe it’s not the most sophisticated sci-fi out there, but it has some fun elements and is pure entertainment.
I was sent this book for review by the publisher, but all opinions are my own