by Kristen Simmons
Published on September 20, 2016 by Tor Teen
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Metaltown, where factories rule, food is scarce, and hope is in short supply.
The rules of Metaltown are simple: Work hard, keep your head down, and watch your back. You look out for number one, and no one knows that better than Ty. She’s been surviving on the factory line as long as she can remember. But now Ty has Colin. She’s no longer alone; it’s the two of them against the world. That’s something even a town this brutal can’t take away from her. Until it does.
Lena’s future depends on her family’s factory, a beast that demands a ruthless master, and Lena is prepared to be as ruthless as it takes if it means finally proving herself to her father. But when a chance encounter with Colin, a dreamer despite his circumstances, exposes Lena to the consequences of her actions, she’ll risk everything to do what’s right.
In Lena, Ty sees an heiress with a chip on her shoulder. Colin sees something more. In a world of disease and war, tragedy and betrayal, allies and enemies, all three of them must learn that challenging what they thought was true can change all the rules.
An enthralling story of friendship and rebellion, Metaltown will have you believing in the power of hope.
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I was super pumped about Metaltown and may or may not have swooned when I won an ARC copy. Obviously I needed to read it immediately (I did try though, you know, life). But while there are a ton of positives for this book, my overall impression was meh. Which is the worst because I wanted to love this book so much.
We’re sent into the dystopian world of Metaltown, a place of low wages and forgotten dreams. Three individuals emerge from the workings: Ty, Colin, and Lena. The first grew up fighting to survive from the age of 8. The second was forced into Metaltown to keep his family alive. The third grew up with everything and nothing.
Alright, three points-of-view. I enjoy when the authors get into each character’s head but only when it’s done well. Simmons did a fantastic job with this. They all had distinctive ways of talking, of thinking, that I always knew who’s PoV I was reading without looking at the chapter heading. My issues, however, arose with the characters themselves.
I thought this book would focus primarily on Ty. After reading for a bit, I wanted this to be Ty’s story. It wasn’t. Of the three, I liked her the best. So much of her backstory remained a mystery that I wanted to see it all, have it unfold from start to finish. Instead, she fell prey to jealousy and became flat, reduced to the background.
Colin was alright at first. I really liked the friendship between him and Ty. On his own, he had the “I’m the attractive love interest” vibe going but I hoped for the best. But then Lena walked through the door.
Did you know this was a romance? I didn’t.
With all the political destruction going on in the background, I hoped Colin (who’s literally fighting to survive) would care more but suddenly his world revolved around Lena. Over and over, he makes a bad call and regrets not listening to Ty. Every. Time. Because of Lena. Ugh.
And Lena was the most interesting of the three in terms of what we knew about her. An abusive brother, cruel father, and a lonely life. She wants to make a difference for the workers upon finding out the conditions they work under but with Colin around, she’s no better than he is.
This whole time, Ty is there being a good friend — the best friend — to Colin, who never notices. That KILLED me, especially the ending. I stopped caring about his reasons for what he did, about Lena and her rebellious phase (I mean she had her reasons there too but her and Colin…). The main reason this book and I just didn’t click? This is it. Right here. I rooted for the underdog and she didn’t win this one.
But that doesn’t mean the rest of the book is bad. In fact, the plot is deep, a political struggle reminiscent of Les Miserables as the working class rises up against the boss. Their struggle came through with such detail and clarity that it was hard not to join in with their cause. Simmons is a fabulous writer and her style sucked me in immediately. If not for the characters, I’d be giving this book a raving review. As it stands, I wanted to like this book but just couldn’t.