I'm a bookworm of the highest caliber! If you see me, I'll probably be reading. There's nothing I love more than finding a good book, and then sharing it with the world!
I will not be making comparisons to Harry Potter in regards to this book. If you want to read about the similarities, go see any number of other reviews out there. You'll find them, easily! The truth is that there are quite a few parallels between this book and Rowling's series. I'm just going to ignore them. This review will be all about The Iron Trial on its own merits. On how it reads, and its character development. I'm just giving you a heads up.
The prologue of this book floored me. Suddenly I was thrown into a world where magic not only existed, but a whole war was being fought around it. Call's origin story piqued my interest. I wanted to know why he was so special. Why he was chosen to be the main character of this book. Trust me when I say that these authors know a hook when they see one. If my only experience with The Iron Trial had been the prologue? I would have wanted to buy it in a heartbeat.
Unfortunately, things didn't quite keep up the pace after that. I was willing to let the slow progression of this story slide for a long time, simply because I understood that important foundation was being laid. We meet Call. We hear about his life, his abilities, and start to wonder why he hasn't been told more about his past. When The Iron Trial was finally mentioned, and I knew that real magic was coming around the end? I was ecstatic! Finally! Magic. I'm sorry to say friends, I was disappointed. I never really felt like this book picked up at all, even up to the ending.
That's not to say that the story itself is all bad. It's just, well, rather flat. I wasn't enchanted by the school that the kids attended, although I felt like I should have been. There was no excitement for me in following their lessons, or their day to day goings on. I just felt like I was sitting, and watching. Waiting for something to happen that would knock me off my feet. That feeling never came. Even the big climax, the huge reveal that explains Call's origin, wasn't all that surprising to me. I'm not sure how else to say it. The Iron Trial just wasn't thrilling at all.
I know, some will say that I'm being biased because I'm not of the age group this book is being marketed to. To them I'll say honestly, I read a lot of Middle Grade Fiction. Probably as much as I read Young Adult Fiction, both of which I'm well beyond the age group they are aimed to. I always try to put myself into the head space of a young reader. Would 11 or 12 year old me be drawn in by this? Would I be immersed? In this case, the answer is still likely a no. There were funny portions, the characters were likable enough, even the parts thrown in about friendship and being true to yourself were sweet. It just wasn't exciting. I craved adventure.
That being said, I did read through to the end. I'll even say that it's likely I'll pick up the next book to see where things go. It's a definite possibility that things will gain momentum. Especially now that the whole story foundation has been laid. I'm willing to give Call's story another chance. For now though, I'll sit the rating squarely at three stars. This is a solid book. The Iron Trial has promise. It just hasn't quite gotten there yet.