So it’s that time again, time for another book review. I’ve seen a certain style of writing reviews on Goodreads lately that really intruiged me, so I thought that for this book review I might try it out. It’s pretty similar to what I normally do (which is basically ramble on about every aspect of the book) but with a bit more of a sense of structure to it.
If you couldn’t already tell by the title of the blog post then the book that I will be reviewing today is ‘The Iron Trial’, the first book in a brand new middle-grade series by authors Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. If you’re an avid follower of my blog then you would know very well that I am a big fan of Cassandra Clare’s books. Both the Mortal Instruments and the Infernal Devices series a very dear to my heart and hold very special places in my life (particularly my teenage and highschool years). I have never read anything by Holly Black, though I have wanted to for a very long time nevertheless. I know that these two lovely ladies are quite good friends in real life, and I immediately knew that I wanted to buy this book upon it’s release as not only did the premise of it intrigue me but well, I trusted the authors. This was such a quick and easy read for me. I flew through this book extremely quickly as it held my attention and both the characters and plot were captivating.
Where do I even begin with this one? Wow, okay. Going in to this book I had seen many reviews and critiques that this story was just too much of a parallel to Harry Potter. While reading it, I definitely picked up on this. At one point in the book it became extremely obvious and I could definitely see why some people took away their enjoyment of the book for this reason, but as the book went on it definitely became it’s own. There were so many moments that separated it, and it’s a shame that for so many people this couldn’t be seen as a way to improve their overall impression of the book. This world and this storyline are so fascinating and original, I can’t imagine how it could be similar to anything. I cannot wait to see how this story progresses throughout the next four books in the series, I can’t even begin to think of what’s going to happen as I was almost completely wrong in this one. The plot of this story deserves nothing less than a full five out of five stars. The way that Clare and Black introduced this world, slowly, intricately and delicately definitely left an impact on my reading experience but I was never overwhelmed to the point where I was dissuaded from reading. I loved this world, so incredibly much. It didn’t disappoint me at all and I’m already so excited to see how the plot progresses in the coming books.
At the beginning of this book I had a little bit of trouble identifying myself with the characters, especially the main character Callum. Of course though this is the first book in a series and it can’t be expected to just immediately attach to them all. I could definitely see a lot of character parallels, but more importantly as the story developed I found myself becoming more and more interested and intrigued about the character’s histories. I felt a lot of sympathy for the main character and really enjoyed reading from his perspective most of the time. I could understand his position and why he would be thinking the things he did but a lot of the time his actions were reckless and a little bit childish (which is what you would expect of a twelve year old protagonist). Our two main side characters, Aaron and Tamara were also very interesting though I definitely preferred Tamara over Aaron. I loved the dynamic between the trio and their relationship under Master Rufus’ apprenticeship, as well as the very interesting and original relation between Aaron and Callum (‘chaos and soul’, ‘chaos and counterweight’). There were many side characters that I loved, including Jasper (the proposed ‘antagonist’ and bully of the book, who we’re supposed to hate but whom I quite enjoyed). I also loved Master Rufus and his infinite wisdom and knowledge, as well as Callum’s father Alistair (though not for particularly great and moral reasons) and Celia, but especially Havoc! Who doesn’t want a Chaos-ridden werewolf pup for a companion?
Being a fan of Cassandra Clare’s book already, before going in to this book, I had a decent sense of her writing style and what to expect from this book. However, as I haven’t read anything of Holly Black’s I was a little hesistant. That doesn’t mean that I was put off from reading this book, because I wasn’t, I was just unsure of how the co-authorship would work. I have to say though that at many times throughout this book I couldn’t differentiate between the two authors. Sometimes I did have a fairly good idea of if it was Cassandra writing or not, but majority of the time the idea of trying to figuring out who was writing left my mind. I lost the motive to decipher the writing because I was just enjoying the writing too much, and the co-authorship didn’t both me in the slightest. However, there were a few times that I didn’t follow the writing quite as well, maybe because this book technically is a middle-grade book or because the characters are supposed to be so young. This didn’t really manage to put me off all that much as it only happened a couple of times but it did happen nonetheless. I also noticed an error in the book…. which is a little bit disappointing. You would think that editors would be a little bit better at their jobs.
This book is not a romance/lovey-dovey/emotion-provoking book. At least this book isn’t. I’m not sure where the romance is headed for the future books, though I do have a few ideas, but seeing as how the characters in this book are twelve years old I hardly think that the authors would solely focus on developing the love interests right away. There was absolutely no sense of romance in this book, hence the low rating, but that is not to say that what occurs in the future books will not be promising.
I wasn’t too sure where this book was heading whilst I was reading it. I had a few ideas in mind and some were right but majority of the time, I was wrong. Very wrong. I felt that the big action scence at the end of the book sort of came out of nowhere, hence the removed stars but it was by no means the worst ending of a book I’ve ever read before. For the first book in a new series I was very surprised by this and the ending was still overally pretty great, I was just expecting a little more action and mystery as to what the next books have to offer. The ending was also very abrupt. I knew there were only a few pages left of the book, but I hadn’t really expected it to end the exact way it did. Not to say that it was bad, just that it was interestingly random and it left the overall feel and atmosphere of the book quite content but still wanting more at the same time. Hmm.
Overall Enjoyment: ★★★★★
Overall, wow. Wow. This book blew my expectations way out of proportion and I definitely didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I loved the world and the world-building, the storyline, plot, action, adventure, the characters and their roles in the overall story as well as the atmosphere of the book. My sense of what was happening didn’t waver once throughout the entirety of the book and I found myself wanting to read more and more (even when I had other things that needed to be done). There was not a thing that I didn’t enjoy about this book and for one that is less than three hundred pages long I thought that it was very cleverly put together and executed. I couldn’t imagine either of these authors writing this book alone, and I’m so grateful that they finally came together to work on something so new, interesting and exciting! I love their partnership and I think (or at least for me) it made me enjoy the book a lot more knowing that so much love and attention had been put in to by two good friends.
I can for sure see how this book would be readable, but as for me I’m not the type of person to typically re-read the first book in a series prior to the release of the second. I can usually remember the details of the first book so I don’t need to go back and re-read it, but I know that for many people that doing so is essential. If I were to re-read it though, it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle and I know that I could very easily get through the book in a matter of hours or just a few days.
Final Rating: ★★★★★
Overally, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will most definitely be picking up the sequel upon its release in September 2015. I believe that this is going to be a five-book series with one book released per year, so we definitely have a fair amount of time to go before we hear anymore from this world. I will be waiting though!