Sixteen-year-old Jill lives and breathes fencing, and she has her eye on an Olympic gold medal one day in her future. But when she suffers a defeat by being one half of one second too slow, she finds her confidence and ambitions are shaken. Her parents whisk her off to the Caribbean for a change of scene they hope will improve her state of mind, but Jill still finds herself mulling over the defeat. Then when she is walking along the beach one day, she comes across an old rusty bit of metal washed up on the shore. Most people would probably stepped right over it and walked on, but Jill immediately recognizes it for what it is - the tip of an ancient rapier. The sword tip has a a connection to the past that is so strong that it transports Jill back to the time it was once a shiny, sharp blade. When she finds herself aboard a pirate ship, her previous worries seem small and unimportant.
This is a fun piratical romp, full of swashbuckling adventure, with strong female characters, a touch of romance, and a bit of enchantment. At the beginning I found Jill to be a bit too self-involved and whiny, and she makes some incredibly scatterbrained decisions along the way, but she does come to terms with her situation so that by the end I found myself rooting for her. I passed this one to my 12-year-old daughter, who has expressed an interest in learning fencing, and she enjoyed it but also found that she did not connect with the main character as much as she would have liked. Still, it was a fun read, and teenage fans of piratical adventure will be sure to enjoy it.
Steel by Carrie Vaughn (HarperTeen, 2011)