Published by Imprint on February 20, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fantasy, Steampunk
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
Can she write a world gone wrong?
A certain pen, a certain book, and a certain person can craft entirely new worlds through a branch of science called scriptology. Elsa comes from one such world that was written into creation by her mother—a noted scriptologist.
But when her home is attacked and her mother abducted, Elsa must cross into the real world and use her own scriptology gifts to find her. In an alternative 19th-century Italy, Elsa finds a secret society of pazzerellones—young people with a gift for mechanics, alchemy or scriptology—and meets Leo, a gorgeous mechanist with a smart mouth and a tragic past. She recruits the help of these fellow geniuses just as an assassin arrives on their doorstep.
Have you ever wanted to love something so much that you just keep trying to no avail?! Well, that was my experience with Ink, Iron, and Glass by debut author, Gwendolyn Clare.
I tried, guys! I really did! I was really excited about this read because the synopsis sounds amazing and the cover is absolutely gorgeous! This book fell short for me, though.
NOTE: I feel like my review is going to come off a lot more negative than I intend. I am just struggling to express specifics for this book. There were things that I enjoyed, but the bad definitely outweighed the good, in my opinion.
Ink, Iron, and Glass is the first book in a YA Fantasy duology set primarily in 19th century Italy and full of steampunk elements and alternate history. A crime committed in the scripted world of Veldana leads the main character, Elsa, to Earth. There, she enlists the help of others like her, gifted youth, who are skilled in different areas of science — mechanics, alchemy, or scriptology — while trying to save her mother and her home.
The premise held a lot of potential to be creative and enthralling, but it ended up being fairly predictable and boring, unfortunately. There is a twist that I didn’t see coming, but I had to get to the very end before it happened. I feel like a lot more action needed to happen at a much faster pace, especially because this is only a duology and not a larger series. On a positive note, I loved the idea of the world books; that a scriptologist can create and edit a world. It would have been fun to spend a little more time in Veldana!
I found the world-building to be just okay. There are historical inaccuracies, beyond the alt history, and inconsistencies (i.e. the narration weaved modern language into the formal language of 19th century Europe). As I previously mentioned, the scripted worlds fascinated me, and I wish I got to know more about them.
I am a character-driven reader, so to say that I never connected with any of the characters is really disappointing. I loved the idea of the characters having special talents and intriguing backgrounds, but I didn’t think there was much growth or development. It seemed that any time a question or problem arose, someone in the group always had the answer or solution. People learn from mistakes and trial and error, even in fiction. Plus, the main characters are teenagers, so they definitely shouldn’t be full of infinite wisdom.
Overall, I obviously didn’t love Ink, Iron, and Glass. I am positive there are readers who will adore it, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.
“We can’t lock our children away from the world forever, Gia. Better they act with our support than behind our backs.”
To demonstrate how much I wanted to like this book: I was provided a review copy via Netgalley that I struggled to read. I blamed my difficulties on poor formatting of the galley. In my opinion, the format of a book affects the reading experience. Digital ARCs that lack structure make it difficult to enjoy reading. This might just be me, but it’s a big pet peeve. I liked the premise so much, though, and the cover is STUNNING, so I purchased a physical copy when it released. The struggle continued; I was too bored for too much of the beginning. I really had a hard time giving up on this, so finally, I got the audiobook to listen to as I read along. This helped a little, and I was able to make it through the book. The problem with all of this is most readers won’t go through this trouble! And that is perfectly fine. I normally wouldn’t, either, but I try to finish review copies and I truly thought the story would pick up.