I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This has not changed my opinion on the book in any way. This review might also have some spoilers, so if you haven't read the book but you want to, be careful.
You all probably know how much I dislike Cassandra Clare. But when I heard about her writing a book that was NOT about the Shadowhunter world, I was both interested and not interested at all. When I read she was co-writing it with Holly Black, I was a (tiny) bit more interested. I had read one book written by Black (The Coldest Girl in Coldtown), and though I wasn't a huge fan of it, I found it likable. So yes, I decided I might give The Iron Trial a try, if I could find if for cheap.
And then, one day, I was surfing around on Netgalley, just looking at some of the books, when I came upon a galley for this book. I requested it, expecting I would never get accepted, but I did, and so I started reading it. Personally, when I read the summary, I found it very Harry Potter-ish, even the cover looked like it. The left kid (Callum) looked like Harry, the middle one (Aaron) looked like Draco and the girl on the right (Tamara) looked like a darker-skinned Hermione. The guy behind them looked a lot like a death eater. But all that aside, I was still curious to see if it really was like Harry Potter. And personally, I thought it did.
Right from the start already, there was a tragedy in which Callum lost his mum, there was someone trying to stop him from going to 'magic school', and there was a snobby kid that reminded me so much of Draco Malfoy. Throughout the story, I just started comparing a lot of things to Harry Potter, including the trio (yes Callum, Aaron and Tamara are a 'trio' hurray) hiding a chaos-ridden wolf puppy in their dorms which reminded me of Hagrid and Norbert(a) the Dragon. Sure, I might have been trying to compare everything to HP but if you know the history Clare has with stuff like this, you'd probably do it too. (I have a whole list of things that happened in this book that reminded me of events that happened in the entire Potter series, but I will not bore you with that right now).
To me, it felt like the entire book was written by Clare, because I couldn't really feel any of Black's influence, though that might have been because I've read two and a half books by Clare and just one by Black. Still, I would have loved to see more of a collaboration rather than this. The writing was just like TMI which I wasn't a fan of, and I found myself sighing a lot of times when there was an unnecessary word added to describe something (like 'his amber goggles', there were pretzels 'sparkling with salt', someone's bald head was 'as smooth as a macadamia nut' (seriously stop comparing people to food, you are not called Hannibal) and so forth).
Besides, I found the entire book boring and predictable (I had kind of figured out the ending already halfway through the book; okay, it kind if surprised me but not as much as the authors would have wanted it to I guess). Yes, some small exciting things happened, but other than that it was just them learning magic. And that happened very slowly. There were days where they were only moving sand, organising it into different colours. I even found the more exciting parts kind of boring, because I thought they weren't described really well. It all just felt weird and yeah I was just bored while reading this book. That is probably why it took me so long to finish it, it was boring and I really felt like not finishing the book and reading Harry Potter instead because there even the 'boring' parts are exciting. There were also so many things that didn't make sense. One of the Iron Year kids went missing, so they rallied up the entire school (including twelve year old kids) to go and search for him in the middle of the night, inside a forest that was apparently crawling with chaos-ridden animals.
Also the food at the school made no sense. They had weird looking food, like 'lichen' and mushrooms (that did taste like normal food, apparently) at the cafetaria, but at some point in the story the 'trio' got pizza for dinner and a normal breakfast after the incident with the kid going missing. Why not just give them actual food in the cafetaria as well? Is that so hard? This book felt like a trainwreck, honestly.
I did not relate to any of the characters at all, I found them to be bland and boring. Callum was a bit of a dumbass; sneaking a chaos-ridden animal into the school after being told they are dangerous and he could get thrown out of school for bringing one in. Sneaking into his Master's office to talk to his father after being told he had to wait until he was more settled. Stealing a damn chaos-ridden lizard from his Master's office and trusting that thing to take him back to his dorm. Seriously, Callum was a very dumb kid and I honestly don't get how he ever got into the Magisterium (okay, near the ending it kind of made more sense, but still). Sometimes, the twelve-year-olds didn't feel like they were twelve, but they felt much older by the way they acted and talked; and then at other points they felt a lot younger, like little kids. That really annoyed me, a lot.
In the end, I really disliked The Iron Trial, and I am not sure if I am going to continue reading the series. Perhaps if I can get them on Netgalley again, or at the library, but I will not be purchasing any of the books in this series.
My opinion on this book in one gif:
- Started reading
- 20 September, 2014: Finished reading
- 20 September, 2014: Reviewed