Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Yet another book I ordered for our library's collection ....  and then snapped up as soon as it arrived on the shelf.

Taken from the back cover: "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 fall 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."

Sounds cool, huh??!!    I had read about this book in reviews, and on other people's blogs, so I was happy to grab it when it reached the library.  I wasn't sure about the book in the beginning ....  I was worried it might be:  girl feels out of place, faery, blah blah blah struggle, blah blah blah faery, blah blah blah cute guy.....   and I was so wrong to be worried.   I had nothing to worry about at all.

This turned out to be a really interesting, well-written, well-woven story with characters that I cared about.  Without giving too much of the plot away (yes, this means you'll just have to read it for yourself), Meghan's best friend turns out to be no other than Puck, and her father turns out to be Oberon (yes, that Oberon).   Wound through the story are other characters you might expect, including a changeling, nixies, piskies, and a cait sith named Grimalkin, who reminded me very much of Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat.   There's danger here in Kagawa's faery world, and her main character, Meghan, doesn't always think before she acts. But that's why I liked her: she's real.   Plunged into this world without much knowledge of how it works would make anyone prone to hasty decisions.  Meghan's not perfect, and thankfully, she's not perfect-looking, either (more on that pet peeve later) and she makes mistakes.  However, she learns from her mistakes and throughout the story, she progressively becomes stronger and smarter.   And the love interest?  Not surprisingly, that's complicated.  However, Ash, youngest son of Queen Mab, is an intriguing guy, and I liked that he was alternately drawn to Meghan or itched to kill her.

One of the most interesting parts of the story was the Iron King and his part of the NeverNever.  The idea of something like this, constructed of technology and metal, is frightening and creepy.   One of the things that I think makes the world of faery appealing is that so often, we associate it with Nature, with the green and growing, and the organic.  Having something Matrix-esque blooming like some nasty fungus within the world of the NeverNever is distasteful.  However, the idea that this is what is happening in this story is fascinating, and it gave a new element to a story that I thought was going to be predictable.

And then, too suddenly, I was at the end of the book.  And yes, I let out a few little curse words --- because I will now need to wait until August, 2010 to read the next book and continue the story.   Argh!!!!!    But that means it was a good book; if I didn't care when I reached the end of it, it would mean I hadn't enjoyed the ride.   

And one last note -- I mentioned that little pet peeve I had about characters always being beautiful....    it's just this:  I understand the whole point of having cool characters who look great because as readers, we can all imagine ourselves as the character, etc etc etc.  I know that.   However....  I always find it a little refreshing to have a main female character who isn't thin, pretty, great hair, smart....   give me a girl who's smart and maybe has quirky looks.  Give her great hair, but a big nose.  Make her smart, but 10 pounds overweight.   After all, as much as I sometimes love to imagine myself in the place of a character who is thin, pretty, smart, and has great hair, I like it when I come across a female character who has a few flaws, and who is more real because of them.     Ok -- done with this rant for now.    On to the next book!!!


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