I will admit that I had some misgivings when I started this book. For one, I'm generally not a fan of YA since so much of that genre seem formulaic and derivative. Secondly, the book is in first person, which often feels weird to read and the narrative style is often clumsy. Finally, the book basically kills off a main character in the first chapter. The First Look had me very curious as to how Lu was going to be able to pull this off.
Here's the deal: Steelstriker completely changed my disposition. For one, Lu freshens up the YA formula by not focusing on some convoluted love triangle, and doesn't hammer the "chosen one" ideal too much. Why there are certainly aspects of love and attraction, there isn't a "which one will she pick?" sort of contrivance throughout the book. And while the protagonist is a "last/first of her kind" sort of character, it tends to be more of a detriment to her plot journey, rather than an boon. Even the main love interest, who has his own "chosen one" moniker, doesn't hold up the tired trope all to common in YA lit.
Second, The first person narrative wasn't nearly as annoying as I feared, and made for a great way to connect to a character that can't speak (and a character who speaks a different language.) Not to give too much away, but the main character is mute, so without speaking it may be hard to get much of insight. The first person narrative fills that in and doesn't feel nearly as clumsy as 1P usually does.
Finally, by killing off the "golden child" supporting character in the opening scene, Lu opens up a space for the the main character to deal with her grief throughout the novel. So while the plot carries on, the protagonist must find a way to deal with her emotions while continuing her mission to save the world. (I will admit she's a bit super-human in this respect, and I wish the author had shown more fallibility, vulnerability, or overall weakness stemming from the grief and emotional turmoil, but all-in-all I think it was handled very well.)
I'm very excited to read the second book of the duology. The first book does not end like you think it would or should, so the second book is a necessity to finish the story.