Sunday, May 23, 2010
Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Tags: YA, fantasy, faeries, adventure, love triangle
Meghan has always felt out of place with her family and peers. Her family seems not to notice her presence or consider her feelings, her classmates make fun of her backwater residence, and her only friend is her neighbor, Robbie. But one day her little half-brother disappears, and Meghan is forced to open her eyes to the beautiful—and terrifying—world of faerie.
Led by Robbie, who is actually the infamous faery Puck, sent to watch over her while she grew up, Meghan journeys into the faery world to save her brother. There, she learns startling things about her heritage, gets caught up in a faery war, falls for someone dangerous, and learns of the existence of an even greater threat to both faeries and humans that no one knew existed before.
In the interest of full honesty—because full honesty is always funny in situations like this—I will admit that I approached this book with low expectations. I had read the first chapter a few months back and was uncertain as to where I stood with Meghan. The synopsis seemed too ideal YA fantasy to be true: warring faeries, a love triangle, an adventure across worlds and settings. What’s there not to like, and what’s there that hasn’t been done over and over before?
Don’t you just love it when a book proves you wrong?
THE IRON KING is an unbelievably refreshing, charming, and hilarious faerie adventure. This just proves that there is no story that can be overtold: it’s just a matter of how it’s told. And this one is told spectacularly.
All of the characters in this book easily come alive through their uniquely different personalities and sparkling dialogue. In fact, their differences are what make the love triangle so believable and attractive. In most cases the “male best friend who’s been there her whole life” figure would hardly be in the running (think Simon from the Mortal Instruments trilogy), but here, Puck is a classic, fitting his Shakespearean prankster roots yet being adorably memorable. Ash has more of a “quiet, brooding, dangerous supernatural hot guy” thing going on, and yet he doesn’t fall into the cliché, and turns out to be lovable too in his own way. And last but not least, Grimalkin, who has a Cheshire Cat-like presence in the story, while not a part of the love triangle, probably steals the show every time he gets to talk—and rightly so, for there was probably never a more lovably snide character in literature since Lewis Carroll’s classic itself.
More than just character appeal, however, THE IRON KING is also lusciously written. Julie Kagawa is able to perfectly balance vivid description of setting with a plot that continues to move forward. We easily visualize the faery world, in a way that doesn’t interrupt the flow of the novel.
Meghan is an admirably determined protagonist, a cut above the norm. She’s relatable but not annoying in her stubborn rebelliousness. Her character is a little inconsistent at the beginning, when I had pegged for the typical wannabe-popular, obsessed-with-the-football-star teen girl, but she quickly grew into a heroine I could respect and even admire.
Overall, THE IRON KING defied my expectations. I had expected something clichéd and ultimately forgettable; instead, I got something marvelously rich in terms of writing, character, and story. This debut novel has made me an instant fan of Julie Kagawa, and I can hardly wait until the next installment, THE IRON DAUGHTER, is released!
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 4 out of 5 - G-g-g-gorgeous. I don't really like the model or her expression (it feels too forced), but I love the colors and the intricacies around the face. Want moar please!
Harlequin Teen / Feb. 1, 2010 / Paperback / 368pp. / $9.99
My copy received from trade.
Swing by tomorrow for an interview with Julie and a giveaway!