Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review of The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, or, Maybe The Whole Book Should Have Been About Grimalkin

This is a novel I liked better as it progressed. I don’t think it’ll ever be a volume I return to time and again, but it was an entertaining read for my daily train ride (even if I did try to hide the cover a bit so my fellow commuters wouldn't judge me).

There were characters I thought were done well, and characters that lacked sparkle. Overall, I found Meghan to be disappointing and her dialogue unimaginative. I also didn’t like how inconsistent she was. Maybe it’s just part of being a teenager, but I didn’t appreciate how she wished for designer jeans, then bashed girls who did dress nicely, to later defy the court by wearing her human clothes only to feel self conscious and insignificant moments later. Make up your mind, girl! If you’re going to be defiant and comfortable in your skin, then do it! Stop recanting each time you see someone better dressed or more attractive than you!

My favorite characters were minor characters. The Packrats stole my heart, and I knew I would be entertained when Grimalkin was in a scene. The author must be a cat-owner, because she totally captured the attitude of a cat- independent and self-important; I loved it.

Makes you want to visit the SPCA and adopt, doesn't it? 
I really didn’t get into the plot until we learned about the Iron King. Before that, it felt really aimless and drifting. It felt like a series of misadventures without any real focus or direction. It was tiring to read about something dreadful happening, Meghan being rescued, something else dreadful happening. I also really hope we find out why Meghan is so special. The king doesn’t really seem to care one twit about her. And if she’s the undoing of an entire race of people, you’d think the Iron King would just send faeries to mate with humans and there’s a whole army of halflings.

That being said, I was impressed with the author’s handle on faerie mythology. It’s so not what I thought when I was a kid (Tinkerbell). It’s dark and sadistic. While I must admit I liked the dark stuff, it was really strange to me that the topics didn’t feel to fit the voice. This felt like it was written for a 14 or 15 year old. The voice felt very young, very accessible, very innocent, and then there’s casual discussion of gang rape (not once, but TWICE in the course of the novel) and the queen being “denied a consort.” Jeez. Those are some pretty adult things. It really bothered me that her near-gang-rape was brushed off so easily. Yes, she was saved, but that is a VERY traumatic experience. It also concerned me that she’s so wrapped up in Ash that she can recover from such an interaction. It felt unrealistic and disrespectful to me. 

Applies to humans, fairies, and halflings.
But that’s just one girl’s opinion.

What do you think? Have you read The Iron King? Are the sequels worth reading? Were you also disappointed that the fairie race lacks racial diversity? 



1 comment:

  1. I think you nailed everything that didn't work for me in the book. I absolutely dark fae stories (because that's how I think they should be), but Ash acts too human, and it has a really young voice. And I really, really, REALLY dislike rapey vibes being excused or disguised as something else (and excused). If Grimalkin had been the narrator though? I'd totally have been in :)


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