Book review – Steelstriker (Spoiler Free)

“That’s the thing about evil. You don’t need to be it to do it. It doesn’t have to consume all of you. It can be small. All you have to do is let it exist.”

  • Title: Steelstriker
  • Author: Marie Lu
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Pages: 384 pages
  • Publication date: September 28, 2021

Since I enjoyed Skyhunter, I, of course, dived into Steelstriker, the second and last book in the series.

Steelstriker starts a little after Skyhunter. The Premier has transformed Talin into a Skyhunter, like what they had done to Red. But instead of fighting in the war, she’s forced to be the Premier’s personal bodyguard and errand runner. If she refuses one of his requests, he will order his soldiers to transport her mother to the prison district. If she does well, her mother can live somewhere nice for the week and get fed well. But if anything happens to him, her mother dies.

In this edition, Red also gets a POV. With broken wings, he’s not as strong as he once was. But he does still have his connection to Talin and knows the Premier’s Federation inside and out. When the Premier captures four of Talin’s old allies, Red decides to sneak into the Federation with two goals in mind: rescue their allies and release Talin from the Premier’s grip.

I found Red’s POV almost more interesting than Talin’s. While Talin has her internal war about how she can stay true to herself as a prisoner, Red has two tones to his POV. He goes between his narration and the voice in his head that tells him how everything he cares for will crumble again in a 2nd POV style. That was an interesting style choice that blended with his character well.

I also liked how the plot came together. Everything that happened wasn’t 100% because of Talin, Red, Jeran, or even the Premier. Unnamed characters came to play in this revolution, which felt realistic. I feel like many YA stories put everything on the main cast, especially the protagonists and the antagonist, but it felt more rounded this time. Which like in real life, it’s usually not just one or two people changing the whole world.

The story is also realistic to history—of conquered nations, stolen artifacts, and rebellions. It felt like seeing the real world through a fantasy lens.

My main critique was toward the end. Around the last battle and afterward, the story seems to disconnect a bit. I’m not 100% certain on how it did—whether it is the predictability or the pacing. While it has some great lines in those chapters, something just doesn’t line up. So, the ending feels a bit underwhelming.

Overall, I enjoyed this duology. As always, Marie Lu crafted a well-throughout story with great characters. I’d recommend it.

Score: 8.9
Average rating on Goodreads: 3.96/5

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