What: Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
Who: Balzer + Bray
When: February 27th 2018
How: A copy of this novel was provided by HarperCollins for review via Edelweiss.
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?
1) The concept
I love the concept of a space opera retelling of Anastasia. I love the story (and the 90s animated film) so I was incredibly excited to see the concept taken and turned into something completely different. There were enough of the original events to clearly see that this was an Anastasia retelling, which I loved.
2) The ships
There were two main ships in this novel: Ana and Di, and Robb and Jax. I really liked both of these relationships. I love the fact that Ana was in love with Di even though he was an AI. And I loved the tumultuous relationship between Jax and Robb that oscillated between enemies and lovers on an almost constant basis. I definitely wanted both of the ships to end up in a happy place at the end of Heart of Iron.
3) The cutthroat politics
I will always love high-stakes political storylines, especially when royalty is involved. Heart of Iron had this in SPADES, so that was super enjoyable for me to read about.
4) The diversity
Ana is a brown girl, Robb is gay and olive-skinned, and Jax is queer (no history about his identity or labels were given). It made my heart incredibly happy to see three diverse characters unabashedly leading this story. In fact, the whole cast of Heart of Iron was diverse – a lot of the side characters were racially diverse, and there was a side f/f couple as well. All the yays for this.
1) The melodrama
There was a lot of “I promise you on iron and stars” (which I will go into in my next point a little more), and “this character is dead but no they’re not but maybe they’re evil now!!11” and going missing and fighting. I get that these things do happen – and need to happen – but there was just too much. Too much for one book that I ~thought~ was a standalone (I will also go into this more later on). I think if a few of the dramatic twists and turns and declarations of love were reduced I probably would have enjoyed Heart of Iron a little more than I did.
2) The world building
There were parts of the world building that were great, but there were parts that felt lacklustre. For instance, the characters say a lot of things about ‘iron and stars’, and yet the origin of that, and the sentiment behind it was never explained or explored. I guess the stars bit comes from the fact they live in space? And the iron maybe because their ships are made from it? I don’t know, and that’s the problem. If a theme is recurring (and this one most certainly is) I feel like it should impact the reader as much as the characters. Because when promises are made on ‘iron and stars’ and the characters are like “WOAH” I should probably feel a little bit of that, too. Instead of “huh??”
3) The repetitiveness
I guess this ties into the second point a bit because ‘iron and stars’ was used far too often my liking. Even ignoring the fact that it didn’t impact me in any way because of no background to it, I was well and truly over the sentiment by the end of the book. There were also a lot of scenes where romantic partners were gazing at each other and seeing stars (yes, again) and memorizing beauty. Also dead but not dead moments, too.
4) Is it a standalone?
I looked into this before I started reading the book because for some reason I was sceptical. I couldn’t find any information about Heart of Iron being the first in a series. After reading the book, I am left pretty certain that this is the first book in a series because that ending was incredibly open, and not the kind of ending anyone wants when they’re reading a standalone. I do hope that there is a sequel to Heart of Iron because I definitely would read it.
So there you have them: my likes and dislikes of Heart of Iron. I don’t think I’ve ever had an even count on both sides before, but I guess that reinforces my three star rating of this book. I did enjoy it, but there were a few aspects that hindered that enjoyment. I will still recommend Heart of Iron to anyone looking for a great, diverse sci-fi retelling of Anastasia.
© 2018, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.
trigger warning multiple graphic murders (including mother and grandmother), murder of family in fire (mother, father, brothers), emotional abuse, torture, explosions, arson (causing facial scarring), use of ableist language, racism, physical assault, inhumane experiments, and attempted murder
multiple graphic murders (including mother and grandmother), murder of family in fire (mother, father, brothers), emotional abuse, torture, explosions, arson (causing facial scarring), use of ableist language, racism, physical assault, inhumane experiments, and attempted murder