Monday, June 14, 2010

The Iron King by Julia Kagawa

Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why. When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined - the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king. Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart. (Taken from the book description.)

First, let me start off by saying that I liked this book. Maybe it had something to do with the girl on the cover looking like Olivia from Fringe. I don't know. What I do know is that despite late nights reading this long after I should have gone to bed, I have a couple issues with it:

1. It's the first of a series. Ugh. Am I the only one who longs for the days of stand-alone novels? I think not.

2. The plot, storyline & characters are fairly unoriginal. Awkward But Pretty Teen Girl? Check. Discovery of a Secret World That Character ACTUALLY Belongs To? Check. Forbidden Romance That Will Somehow Work Out In The End? Check. The combination of all these "universal" elements is the fad right now though, so I guess I shouldn't whine too loudly since it's not like someone is twisting my arm to read such mind candy.

3. Some other reviewer pointed out that it's disappointing how many faerie books, of which there are many, have created their own mythology of the fey and how they behave. Count The Iron King as another one. It's jumped on the bandwagon of conniving, cold-hearted, anti-human faeries who are oversexed and only use the pretty humans for obscene play things. Then again, I'm no Expert On All Things Faerie so maybe that's how the mythology goes.

4. The characters are just so . . . typical. Look, I know there are only so many archetypes we have to choose from. The Misunderstood Beauty, the Strong But Silent Hero, the Charming and Witty Best Friend, the Sarcastic Talking Pet. I get it. But I feel like I keep reading the same story over and over again in these urban fantasies, only with different environments and names.

Meghan isn't terribly obnoxious, but she trips a lot (PLEASE in the name of all that is holy can we stop with the clumsy girl flaw already?!) and her logic/intelligence seems to leave her at crucial times. She makes some rash decisions and says some things she probably ends up regretting. Or at least I hope she would because I know I would. Some of the things these teen characters do and say is just so humiliating that I would probably throw myself off a cliff if I behaved the same way just to spare the world my histrionics. Anyway. I think Meghan maybe grows up a smidge by the end, but I hope to see more character growth in the next one.

That being said, there were some bits and pieces thrown in that I thought were a creative twist to a genre that has been beaten to death. I loved the incorporation of characters from A Midsummer Nights Dream. And I like the idea of Iron Fey, though I didn't like the execution of it. It was too Mediocre Juvenile Fiction. The Evil Mastermind was pretty blah. The Iron army was like something out of an animated Disney movie. Ya, that's right. Almost . . . cutesy. It gave me sudden flashbacks of the horrible Maximum Ride series by James Gag Me Patterson, so that might have something to do with it. Iron fey could just be so interesting and creepifying on a whole new level. Alas.

Kagawa also blends in elements of Alice in Wonderland, The Labyrinth (sans David Bowie, sadly) and some Celtic legend. Sometimes a little too thickly. There is a line between tipping your hat to greatness and piggy-backing on it like a leech, after all. There were some editorial mistakes as well. Thinking back on it now I wonder if this book was just too rushed, both the writing and the publishing. Much of these hang-ups could've been polished with careful editorial inspection. Sigh.

To sum up - it's fun, but nothing too special.

3 out of 5 stars for the author's attention to detail and entertainment factor.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for coming down on the clumsy flaw! when on earth are we going to be tired of our stupid heroines always falling all over themselves? i don't even know any really clumsy people until i sit down to read a book. then i know a ton.

    good review. i don't think i'll read it (mainly because the series is too much for me to commit to. what do these authors think we do? sit around and wait for more of the same book to be written?)