Book Reviews

[review] The Iron King – Julie Kagawa


Release Date: February 1, 2010
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 363
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

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 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.

Discovery: I’m working my way through a list of faery YA novels.

+     Mythology. To be honest, I didn’t see anything that I haven’t encountered in the other faery novels I’ve read, but I liked seeing the nods to the wide variety of fae. Being able to recognize kelpies, redcaps and bean sidhe before Meghan is told what they are? It feels amazing. I am a little sick of Titania and Oberon, so the new enemy was a refreshing change. (I can’t talk too much about them because it’ll spoil the story.)

–     Predictability. A lot of the same problems that I saw in City of Bones also popped up in The Iron King. Meghan is just as naive and reckless as Clary and I did find myself frustrated with her actions more than once. The dreaded love triangle reared its head and I’ll tell you right now that I’m not on Team Ash. I don’t see any reason for that relationship. There was practically no build-up, beyond Ash wanting to kill her and can I just talk about all the problems I have with that trope? Really, thin line between love and hate, I know, but that’s just not a healthy relationship to present to teenagers.

I also thought that the big conflict in the novel could be seen through heavy fog from thousands of miles away. Nothing really surprised me or made me want to know more. I feel let down by this novel and I didn’t particularly want to finish it.

–     Special Snowflake Syndrome. The majority of YA novels revolve around characters who discover hidden powers or abilities and must learn to use them against ancient enemies. The Iron King‘s Meghan Chase is no exception, but unlike a lot of these characters, Meghan Chase is not that likeable. I first started to dislike Meghan on page 17, when she rails at “inflate-a-boob” Angie: “Ms. Perfect Cheerleader, who’d flip out if she saw a caged gerbil or a speck of dirt on her Hollister jeans. I’ve pitched hay and killed rats and driven pigs through knee-deep mud. Wild animals don’t scare me.” This passage bothers me. A lot. For one, I don’t think Meghan has to compare herself to a cheerleader to get her point across. She grew up on a farm and it’s not necessary to sling aforementioned mud at Angie just because Angie didn’t grow up that way too.

I’ve run into this kind of negative characterization time and time again and not just in YA novels. I understand that books are often written from one perspective and that that perspective is almost always skewed. But I’ve always seen it as a sign of weak writing to resort to saying “I can do things cheerleaders can’t” as a way of proving that you’re a better person. I’ve found that characters who do this can be just as petty and shallow as the people they profess to hate. They may think that they’re better people, but when you sum up a person based solely on what they wear, listen to or read, you do yourself a disservice too.

Recommendations: I know that this series has many fans, but it just wasn’t for me. I wouldn’t personally recommend The Iron King, though in the interest of fairness, I’ll be reading the next two books.

Rating: Poor.

Go check out Julie Kagawa’s website and follow her on Twitter @jkagawa.

You can read more about The Iron King on Goodreads and order it over at Amazon and Book Depository.

Next review: Always a Witch, Carolyn MacCullough

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7 replies »

    • I’m about halfway through the second book now! Still trying to stick with it, despite my frustrations, especially since you say the third one’s better. 🙂

    • I’m willing to give the series another go, but I can’t seem to get over my discomfort over Meghan’s attitude. :/ You should still try it out for yourself though.

  1. Angel, I agree with a lot of the points you made about Iron King as well (same with Gwen!); Meghan really bothered me in this one. And The Iron Daughter was a bit better than this one, but Iron Queen and Knight I really adored. By the end, I ended up really liking Meghan as a character.

    I hope you enjoy the next two more than this one!

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