Iron Core by Rebekah DeVall
Wow. This is a short, gritty, action-packed little story. I must confess, I sat down and read it one sitting and simply flew through it barely remembering to breathe. There truly isn’t a dull moment in this story. My biggest regret is that is was so short, but I’ll get to that later.
First, what I liked:
- Lunetta – The main character is both brave and fragile at the same, a girl who lived in prison her entire life because of a crime her mother committed before she was born. I liked the contrast of strength and weakness in her character. I liked her determination against insurmountable odds. She is so determined to escape and wants desperately to bring her mother with her—qualities I really loved in her. You can’t help but want this poor girl to escape from these terrible circumstances.
- The pacing – This story simply jumps right in and takes off and you’re barely given time to wrap your head around what is happening as you are pulled deeper and deeper into the story. Seriously, you will fly through this story and read it in one sitting.
- The characters are flawed – I know, this one sounds a little crazy. But I love flawed characters—their quirks and mistakes are what make them real and relatable. I think every character has something about them that could be improved upon, sometimes slight, sometimes major.
- I also liked Persa and the baby – They were a sweet but painful touch to a brutal story. I don’t want to go into details because of spoilers, but I hope we get to see their story developed more and find a happy ending for them. A story this grim needs a few happy moments to carry us through.
What I would have liked differently:
- The pacing – Okay! I know, I know! I listed this as a POSITIVE. But because the pacing is so fast, I felt as if the world building and character development suffered a little. I have so many questions about the world and how it works and what it looks like…I think it would have been a good idea to make this short story into a full-length novella and flesh out the world and characters more. The author could have continued the “serial” nature of the book and still given a broader scope of the world and characters she was presenting.
- The gritty nature of the story – Because this is a serial and not a complete work of fiction, this first installment is painfully grim. The main character is definitely angry at God. I like gritty stories, so I almost hesitate to mention this, but I think folks should know going into it that THIS installment won’t end happily. I think I can speculate the that the story AS A WHOLE will brighten with the light of the message the author will bring to it, but readers will have to slog through some grim events to get there. I think it might have been a good idea to introduce a lighter/hopeful theme a little stronger in the first installment of the serial, to let us know that there will be hope for this world and the characters we are beginning to like. I would have also liked Lunetta’s mother to have presented her case for her faith more strongly, to help us understand how a woman in such horrific circumstances could discover her faith in prison. It would have added a rich layer of sub-characterization to the tale. I have hopes that this will be revisited in future installments.
- The anxiety attacks – This is going to sound a little weird, so please don’t laugh at me, but I think the anxiety attacks weren’t grim enough. Yes, I just said how gritty the world was and how I would have liked some more light in it and now I’m saying to make it grimmer. My reasoning, anxiety attacks are MESSY. I’ve experienced them. I’ve witnessed them in those I love. They’re painful, messy, tearful, horrible things…and I think Lunetta handles hers TOO well. She’s a prisoner with almost no comfort in her life and the fact she is able to control her anxiety right from the beginning almost seems too convenient. I would have liked to see poor Lunetta struggle with her anxiety more and learning how to talk herself down from the ledge, etc.
I can’t tell you enough how intense this story is. You’ll truly be captivated from the first page. If you like stories like the Hunger Games, I think you will enjoy this one. It’s tight, punchy, grim, and compelling. You’ll wish you’d waited until the entire serial was published (like I do!) so that you wouldn’t have to wait for the next installment. Buckle your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen, because this story is one wild read.
I rate this story a high PG-13 for Thematic elements, hints of abuse/rape/violence (almost all shown off stage). This one is not suitable for young children and may be disturbing for abuse/anxiety victims.