Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Iron King by Juli Kagawa review

The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)
Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined… Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

THE IRON KING by Juli Kagawa
I was really excited to get this book after seeing so many great reviews. All I knew about it was that the main character, Meghan Chase, finds out that she is half-faery and ends up in the faery realms on a quest to find her little brother.
I'm disappointed that I didn't love it like I hoped I would. It seemed that almost everything in The Iron King reminded me of some other YA book I've read in the past year, and most of the time I liked the other book better. I actually started to wonder if I'd read too many YA fantasies when I was reading this and everything seemed to be a rehash of another book...Obviously, I decided not to give up my favorite genre of all time, but I think my reading dozens and dozens of these kinds of books has taken some of the freshness from them...Anywhoo...
First, things I did enjoy:
*I liked Kagawa's concept of what a glamour (the magical disguise faeries use to prevent humans from seeing them as they truly are, a common concept in almost all books featuring faeries) actually is. (pg. 190, paperback)
*The scenery is beyond imaginative. It's like Alice in Wonderland on steroids. Kagawa obviously has a gift for creating bizarre and surreal landscapes.
*Faerie fights are pretty cool.
What I didn't like:
I realize if I'd read this book a year ago before the other novels I found myself comparing it to, I would've liked it better. Nevertheless, the Seelie vs. Unseelie faery courts at odds with one another reminded me of Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, the evil football player reminded me of Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (which I adored, btw), there was a helpful talking cat in one of the Fablehaven books, the main character is on a search for her missing brother just like in Terry Pratchett's delightful The Wee Free Men, and finally the gross inability of immortals to keep their hands off human women? That's Percy Jackson all over again. (Also, and I realize this is totally a pet peeve and something other people may not care about: I hate YA books that involve adultery. Meghan was conceived when her mother was married to a perfectly nice guy named Paul. We never learn in this book what happened to Paul after he disappeared, even though his vanishing is the first scene of the book and is referred to several times.)
Plot-wise, it was a pretty standard quest book: Lots of near misses, dangerous baddies showing up, captures and escapes, etc. I never really felt that connected to Meghan as a character, so I wasn't overly concerned when bad things happened to her.
Her best friend is Puck, the same Puck from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." I'm not a fan of well-known literary characters showing up in contemporary fiction with totally different personalities. Puck--a faery who is thousands of years old being in love with Meghan, who he has been protecting and hanging out with since chilhood-- was strange.
The faeries in general are cold and calculating, or recklessly unconcerned with the wellfare of mere mortals. Once Meghan understands this, you'd think she wouldn't want a relationship with any faery guy (I mean, look how that worked out for her mom!)
But no...
The book is published by Harelequin Teen, so there had to be a romance. I thought there would be a lot more relationship stuff than there was.
This was one of the most "I hate you...*two seconds later*...nope,I would die for you, I love you so much!" romances that I've come across in a while. It's like emotional whiplash.
Meghan's love for Ash, the Unseelie Faery Prince, comes out of nowhere. Heck, he spent the previous two hundred pages trying to either kill her or deliver her to his evil Queen before he decided they were meant to be together.
There's quite a bit of bad language, another pet peeve of mine. All in all, I didn't love it. I'm giving it three stars because it was just OK. Two stars seemed a little low, but if 2.5 were an option I would've gone with that.

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