NOTE: I received the eARC from the author.
Fan of dystopia I am not. Mostly because of the depression and hopelessness that follows everyone everywhere. Sure, I know that everyone gets saved in the end, because you know, there has to be something positive in all the devastation, but still... I usually steer clear of that lot.
But I just had to make an exception for author Megan Curd. I'd heard good things about her books, so I thought I'd give her a chance. To tell you the truth, I'm not sorry at all. It was a fluent read, well balanced in pacing, plot and character development. The story wasn't completely unique, but then there's yet for me to stumble upon a truly unique distopian novel. After all, they do talk about a destroyed world, where a tiny number of survivors are trying to hang on to dear life.
Yet, there was originality that I really came to like. Since the world as we know it ended in a nuclear war, there was radiation everywhere. This radiation is the reason why some people have developed certain abilities - mostly they have to do with controlling the elements. The more powerful the elementalist, the more sought after. In the beginning, right after the war, seven domes were erected to save the population of the U.S. Of all seven, only one remains, or so everyone's been told. Why? Well, that's the million dollar question, isn't it? And I'm not telling. If you're curious, you better go read the book for yourself.
Let's move on to the characters.
Avery is the POV of this story. She's the strongest elementalist in Dome 4(I hope I'm not wrong), who could create the life sustaining steam which everything in the dome operates on. Think electricity, food production, clean water supplies, uncontaminated air, protection from the outside world... you name it, it runs on steam. And there's only three people supplying steam, one of whom is Avery. Despite the value of her ability though, there are only a couple of people who actually care about her - her best friend Alice, and a boy everyone calls Legs. Avery is supposed to be protected by the Dome's government, but all she gets is blackmail, ridicule, hatred and the like. Which is why she's so eager to escape the place, hoping there's salvation somewhere outside.
I don't exactly know how it happens that the villain always knows when the protagonist is at his/her weakest and attacks, but that's how it happens here as well. Except, the villain here isn't acting like one and we, along with the protagonist are led to believe the villain is actually the savior. I'm not really surprised, since that's how it is in real life too.
The other lead character was Jackson. Son of the heartless villain, who is a sweetheart behind the wall of sarcasm. I can't say I liked Jackson right away. I'm not into the cocky bad boy type, so that's no surprise. When his armor or rudeness and sarcasm started slipping away though... I couldn't not like him. He had a bleeding heart that wouldn't really take on mending. His wounds go way down and I can't even begin to tell you how sad and sick it made me to read about the things done to him. That he's still standing firm and fighting is a miracle of its own.
Alice was the cheerful friend, the ever optimist, the person who never saw the gray and black. I thought she was a bit foolish to see only pink in a destroyed world. But then again, I believe in a group of people there must be one to keep the spirits up at all times.
Xander was difficult to decipher. He was suspicious in a very subtle way, but still kept me guessing his intentions until the very end.
In conclusion, I'd like to say that Steel Lily is a quick read with an interesting plot. If you're into dystopian novels, you'd probably like it.
My rating is 4/5 stars