Monday, 12 May 2014

The Iron King

Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Type: e-book
Source: Local Library
Series: 1st book in the Iron Fey series
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
First Published: Feb 1, 2010
First Line: "Ten years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared."

Book Description from GoodReadsMeghan 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.

My Review:  Let me just preface this review by saying that there are two reasons why I picked up this book.  First, I was utterly captivated and totally enthralled when I read the first two books of Kagawa's The Immortal Rules (I eagerly bought the third one recently and it's on my To Be Read pile).  Her writing, characters, pace and plots were truly fantastic in that series.  The second reason why I picked up this book is due to the rave reviews about the very popular Iron Fey series in general.  That's got to count for something, right? Um, unfortunately no.

Expectations aren't always a good thing.  I brought a digital copy of this book on my recent trip to Florida to visit my parents but sadly I have to admit that I didn't love this book and really struggled to get into it and through it.  I honestly feel like I'm betraying the author because I so adored her other series but I can't honestly give this book a glowing review.

I also finished this book wondering if I had read the same book that so many other reviewers had read.  My response to this book was that different.  Granted I wasn't the sole person who didn't love this book but by and large the vast majority of reviewers on-line loved this book.

Let's get through this issues I had with this book:

1. "We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto".  Or maybe we are?! -- My preconceived notions going into this book were waaaay off.  I get that this isn't the awesome perfection that is Kagawa's The Immortal Rules but I will admit that I was expecting something much edgier. 

I liked the premise of the book and was on board with it until Meghan goes to rescue a loved one who has been taken.  At that point all of the suspense in the plot withered and I was plunked down into a strange world where it felt like too many different famous fantasy characters lived.  I expected it to have a supernatural element but the characters and themes that I got were not what I had expected at all.  Fairies, Midsummer Night's Dream characters, a wicked stepmother and a Cheshire cat?  It felt like the author tried to incorporate too many famous fantasy characters into the mix and instead made it more of a mêlée that felt forced and confusing.  I half expected to see a witch in ruby red slippers squished under a house.  Honestly.

2. Ahhh, l'amour -- As expected there was a teen love angle with this book but it fell very flat for me.  I realize that I'm not the main demographic here but I think if I was I'd still have a hard time believing this love story.  These two teens, who had major issues and attitude between them, suddenly (and unexpectedly) were deeply and madly in love ... and so they were.  And the reader is just supposed to accept this.  There was no build up to their feelings just the author telling the reader that this is the way it was.  And, I'm sorry I just can't get behind a relationship merely because the boy is dark, brooding and hot and can't decide if he wants to kill the girl of his affections or kiss her.  Again, I'm not a 16 year old teenage girl but I still think that if I were I'd need more to go on.  The soul of a romantic, I have.

3. All tell and no show does not a happy reader make -- There was quite a lot of 'telling, not showing' going on in this book and I reeeally don't like that.  I want to see how the relationships have built up and the twists in the plot unfold.  I don't want to be spoon fed the story and just have to accept it because it's written because it takes the suspense and energy out of the storyline.  Sure there were action scenes in the book but they felt like they were placed there with no real use to the storyline.  Unless you just want the damsel to keep doing stupid things so she can get saved while the man child continues to brood.  If that's the case then you're golden.

4. Wussy female protagonist -- This is one of my biggest pet peeves in teen fiction.  Why does the female protagonist have to be weak and be saved by the brooding menfolk? *Sigh - memories of 'Twilight' come flitting into my consciousness* 

Meghan was not a strong main character and came off as quite naïve and annoying if truth be told.  I realize she had a sheltered childhood but does that mean she had to be so naïve as to repeatedly do things that others have warned her against?  Time and again she makes life threatening deals with supernatural beings even after being told to knock it off!

She never once came off as courageous to me.  Just naïve, rather ignorant and very, very lucky.  She is the total antithesis to Allie Sekemoto, the main character in Kagawa's Immortal Rules series who is the female lead that I love -- a kick butt, 'don't wait around for boys to save you' strong teenage girl.  It's shocking the difference between the two teenage girls and I'm happy to say that The Immortal Rules was written after The Iron Fey series so perhaps Kagawa changed her mind about how she wanted her female protagonists to be perceived.

5. Bad Boys, Bad Boys ... whatcha gonna do? -- There are two guys in Meghan's life -- Puck and Ash.  Puck was a quirky guy who was probably my favourite character out of the bunch.  Unfortunately he was left in the shadows quite a bit and only pulled in to create the overdone teenage love triangle. 

Ash, the bad-boy, brooding hottie was a cliché from the get-go.  While he was cute he was pretty darn dull.  At first I was excited because he came in there with attitude to spare and I figured he would be a good match for Meghan.  Unfortunately, his character never grew throughout the story so we were left at the end of the book with a brooding, bad boy. 

So you may have guessed that I wasn't a fan of this book.  While I don't plan to read any of the other books in this series I kept hoping, even by the middle of the book, that Kagawa would pull something magical out of her writer's hat to turn this book around.  Sadly, for me anyway, that didn't happen for me.

I'm still an ardent fan of Kagawa and if I haven't made it clear enough, I highly recommend picking up The Immortal Rules if you want to see Kagawa's writing at its finest.

My Rating: 1.5/5 stars 

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