by Kristen Simmons
Published on September 20, 2016
by Tor Teen
Source: eARC for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
My take: Way back when, I read Kristen Simmons Article 5. I just looked up my review, which said (tl;tr) loved the story world; didn't love the characters and their romance.
Well, déjà vu all over again. On the positive side, I thought the story world in Metaltown was really well-crafted. I'm not sure if this book is supposed to be alt-history or sort of dystopian-futuristic, but it takes place in a bleak, gritty world that feels turn-of-the-century industrial and post-apocalyptic all at once. Food and clean water are scarce, people are hungry, a lot of kids have been orphaned, and the poor work long hours in unsafe conditions. There's a war raging and one of the main employers is a huge weapons factory.
Metaltown is told from the points of view of three characters: Colin, a boy who works on the factory line, his (female) friend Ty, and Lena, the daughter of the owner of the weapons factory. The characters were a bit of sticking point for me. I never really warmed up to either Colin or Lena, and thus wasn't all that enthralled by their slow-burn, rich girl/poor boy romance. I really liked Ty, but as soon as Colin went all googly-eyed over Lena, poor Ty was kind of left on her own and ... let's just say that wasn't very good.
Does this book have a love triangle? Not technically, but I didn't love the triangular dynamic of the supposedly nice guy who all but ditches his loyal female friend to chase around after another girl. It wasn't exactly a love triangle, but it did feel to me that one character gets unceremoniously shoved out in the cold. So I couldn't really like Colin because of his crappy treatment of my fave character, Ty. The book tried very hard to make me like Lena, with her mean father and abusive brother, and did succeed in making me feel sorry for her, but that was it. For whatever reason I just didn't connect to her, which is surprising, because since my childhood obsession with A Little Princess I have had a fierce and secret love for poor little rich girl characters.
If you like gritty, industrial settings, you should definitely try at least a few chapters of Metaltown, which will give you a good feel for the characters -- then you can decide for yourself!