Overall just disappointed with this read. I fell in love with the book and the premise (alternate version of Boston in 1919 with a class of human beings called hemopaths being outlawed). However, the author chose to dump us right in the middle of the story instead of developing the characters we were supposed to care about. It also didn't help the world building didn't make a lot of sense. She threw in real life events such as Prohibition, but I honestly didn't feel like the author did a lot of research on Boston or Prohibition, let alone race relations back in the 1919s.
I honestly don't know how to explain this because the book starts off at a weird place with no explanation to things.
"Iron Cast" deals with two roommates and best friends Corinne and Ada who live at the Cast Iron club (no I don't know why the book title just didn't call it the name of the club) who pull jobs to keep the club afloat when they are not also singing/rhyming and playing music at the club for people who want to sit and be dazzled by the illusions the hemopaths can project onto regs (regular people). Hemopaths have a sensitivity to iron and the Cast Iron is iron free so Corinne and Ada can live there with no pain unlike elsewhere in Boston.
Ada is still recovering from being locked away for two weeks at an asylum for hemopaths and Corinne is pretty insensitive with wanting her to get over it already and make up with their friend Saint who turned Ada over. Pretty much the whole book can be summarized that Corinne says or does something insensitive, barely apologizes, and then gets in even more trouble ten minutes ago.
I liked Ada's backstory the most. Frankly I was more interested in her parents. One is African and the other is Portuguese. What doesn't make a lot of sense though is that Ada chooses to live at the club. She can still pull jobs and work there, but she can live with her mother. There is honestly a lot of nonsense with Ada and a guy she's seeing and her being afraid to tell him that she loves him because of reasons (seriously it was stupid and I refuse to dwell on it). We get some sloppy side story about why Ada and Corinne are friends, but it really doesn't work. Corinne moved into Ada's room when she started to manifest her hemopathy and acted like a stuck up jerk and was nasty to her. And then someone said a racial slur to Ada and Corinne demands an apology and they are just friends from that moment on.
Corinne is the daughter of a rich family in Boston. She's a jerk. Seriously. She has contempt toward her older brother for marrying a family of means and she thinks he is using that as a stepping stone to get into office where he will be prosecuting hemopaths. Once again it doesn't make a lot of sense that Corinne is at the club working and avoiding private school.
Frankly I have a hard time with two teenagers doing what they did throughout this book without getting smacked by an adult here and there. It just felt so unrealistic. If they had aged them both up to new adult age maybe this would have worked better. Both at one point they are running around and threatening and questioning people who are older, have money, etc. and I just laughed.
There are side characters in this book who don't fare well either with regards to development. I know the character Saint feels bad about rolling over on Ada, paints, and is gay.
Ada's love interest Charlie plays the horn and loves Ada.
Corinne's brother and mother are in more scenes with her, but her father is faceless throughout this book. A love interest of Corinne was annoying to the point that I wanted to smack the guy, he's 18 and running around with a gun.
And the club owner, Johnny Dervish, I think was supposed to be some type of Professor X person, but doesn't seem to be there besides to give a look or say something I think is supposed to be profound.
The writing was not good throughout the book. I think the bigger issue is that the author spent too much time on Corinne and Ada solo. I still don't get why they are best friends. Besides the weird finger tapping thing they did (and there's no explanation for that either by the way) I didn't get best friends forever. We kept having complete stand alone plots both of them were doing and nothing really works. Most of the story is supposed to be them figuring out who is out to get them and other hemopaths in the story after someone they love is killed. However, we have Ada forcing Corinne to return home for family events in order to not have her family get suspicious about what she is doing. Ada goes to see her mother and gets into arguments, goes to see Charlie, gets into arguments, etc.
Also for a book taking place in the 1900s, the dialogue seemed way too modern at times. I don't need it to be "The Great Gatsby" or anything, but there should have been some reference to things besides just Prohibition about to happen.
The flow was pretty terrible because the book jumps back and forth between the girls doing random things, investigating, and then doing random things again. When the not dynamic duo is eventually taken to the asylum something occurs that makes me roll my eyes so hard I couldn't get over it. This whole book was a lot of show with no tell happening.
The world building was poorly done. Something could have worked here if maybe the author chose to build up the backstory to the characters first. Or heck, she could have started the first scene with the girls pulling a scam in order to see how Ada ended up incarcerated in the first place. Instead we had a lot of things referred or alluded to. I also have to say I wonder if the author has done any research on Boston during the 1900s. Cause really besides her describing clothes and hair bands here and there, nothing else worked at all.
We do have a throwaway line here and there about racism in Boston when the story drifts back to Ada. However, for the most part, her race seemed to be ignored unless a scene called for it (when the two girls escape into a shop and the store owner threatens to call the police if Ada doesn't leave).
The ending was nonsensical. I can only hope that because of the way the book ended there is not a sequel happening here. I know the rule seems to be all YA books are a trilogy, but this one really doesn't need to be one.