28 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious
Take Labyrinth, crash it full-speed into The Neverending Story, and mix well with The Matrix, and that's just a taste of the wildly imaginative ride you'll go on when you read THE IRON KING. It's such a pleasure to read a contemporary fantasy that's fresh and full of action, and doubly a pleasure to read the first of a series that stands completely on its own. This book...
Published on January 23, 2010 by Saundra Mitchell
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, but with potential
I liked it, I didn't like it, I liked it I didn't like it IlikeditIdidn'tlikeit...
On the one hand, The Iron King can be a really fun read, and I think a lot of people are going to fall in love with it because it's going to give them what they wanted going in: a little faery lore, a little magic, a little otherworldliness and a little lovelust. If you...
Published on March 20, 2011 by MistyBookRat
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, but with potential,
This review is from: The Iron King (Harlequin Teen) (Paperback)I liked it, I didn't like it, I liked it I didn't like it IlikeditIdidn'tlikeit...
On the one hand, The Iron King can be a really fun read, and I think a lot of people are going to fall in love with it because it's going to give them what they wanted going in: a little faery lore, a little magic, a little otherworldliness and a little lovelust. If you can just read it on that level, it's not bad, a bit of fun fluff.
But at the same time, there are some real drawbacks for me. So here's what I'm going to do: the following is a bulleted list of my pros and cons in the book, and you can decide for yourself whether it's a good or bad review. As I said, I can't decide how much I like this one.
Kagawa is pretty successful visually. There was enough description to help me see the Nevernever, but it was never really overkill.
I really liked the idea of the iron fey. I don't want to give away too much, but it makes sense, it makes faeries current, and it adds another layer of BigBad to the already scary and dangerous fey world.
I think Kagawa gave herself room to grow in the series, and even though there are things you can see coming a mile away, she was able to wrap this book up fairly nicely while planting a hook for the next. I have friends who hate a hook, so let me be clear that it is not a cliffhanger type of hook; if you want to stop after The Iron King, you can and I don't think you'll feel like you didn't get a complete story, but if you want to continue on, there is something there to pull you back in.
The Pack Rats. I thoroughly enjoyed the Pack Rats, and elements like this made me see this as a potential movie, because I think they'd be pretty neat and visual.
The beginning was very slow for me, and thoroughly predictable (truthfully, predictability is a problem throughout, though at some point, I guess I just accepted it). The writing and plot seemed a little write-by-numbers, and other works (Shakespeare, Alice in Wonderland, The Labyrinth, Peter Pan, Spiderman, etc) were alluded to or mirrored throughout, and it left me with an impression of unoriginality for a good portion of the book.
I felt Kagawa was rash with the love aspect; in the beginning Ash is aloof and, as we learn, wounded and closed off, and had there been a slow build up over the entire 3-book series, beginning with a grudging trust and some crushing, then some lovelust, I would have bought it more, but as is, it felt again like write-by-numbers: "I need a love interest, so this is going to happen, then she'll do this and he'll say that, and presto, aren't they just devoted?" It didn't work. Also, there's a whole lot of Puck v. Ash love triangle going around the blogosphere, and I just don't get it. I feel it's hinted at but not developed or even necessary in the book, and it's become so gimmicky anyway...
Weird continuity errors. This got on my nerves a bit. It was just stupid things, like Ash saying Meghan's name, then a couple of pages of stuff happening, and then Ash saying her name again and Meghan getting all fluttery that it's the first time Ash has ever called her Meghan -- when it's not. The first time was about five minutes ago, when he said "Meghan, blahblahblah"... Or, when Meghan is leaning propped against Ash's chest, so there's no way she can see his eyes, and he's telling his sob story (which someone noticed was like a scene from The King's General) and Meghan narrates "Ash fell silent, his eyes dark and haunted." Except you can't see them, so you don't know that. Grr.
Oy, with the deals already! Anyone who is familar with faery lore at all, or has read any fey book knows no saying "thank you" and NO making deals. Even if Meghan was lacking in faery lore before entering the Nevernever, she is told not to say thanks or make deals, and still, it's like practically every single badguy faery she meets, she walks up and plays Lets Make a Deal. She's smart about it once, but the rest of the time, she basically offers herself up on a platter. She'll be thinking, "I hope they don't want my firstborn child," or something along those lines, but she'll say "I'll do anything." What? Think, Meghan. Stop getting yourself into situations where you become the dumb damsel in distress and just THINK.
And speaking of the damsel thing, we're told that Meghan has loads and loads of untapped power, which I am always leery of (but more on that in a minute), but she gets herself into these situations and then stands there waiting to be saved. If you're so powerful, or will be so powerful, show some damn spunk.
[A sidenote on all-powerful protagonists: Just don't. If you're writing a book, just don't. Have the gumption to have an MC who isn't some deep font of powerpowerpower. It's too tempting a crutch to write your characters into an impossible situation and then have them finally "discover" the confidence and ability they've been shying away from using, and BAM, sticky situation solved. Just don't. Think how much more interesting it is, how much more tension there is, and edge-of-your-seatness, when the MC has some ability, some brains, and some pluck, and have to really work to get themselves through. It is so much more rootforable, so much more believable, and so much more relatable. I know it makes your job as a writer a little harder if you can't go all Deus Ex... but really, just don't.]
So. That's the list. As I said, if you can go into it willing to set some things aside and just enjoy it, it flows well and is a nice bit of funfluff. But I'm still torn, and am hoping for growth in book 2, which I have a review copy of, so that the Pro list will begin to outweigh the Con. But I guess only time will tell.
44 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dark, satisfying twist on faery lore that's giving me a sudden nostalgic desire to watch Labyrinth.,
This review is from: The Iron King (Harlequin Teen) (Paperback)William Shakespeare's faeries from A Midsummer's Night Dream have been popular characters for YA fiction of late. Following Lesley Livingston's Wondrous Strange and Darklight, The Iron King marks the third book to borrow Puck, Summer King Oberon and Queen Titiana and Winter Queen Mab. Both series also imagine a daughter for King Oberon who discovers her faery heritage and is drawn from the human world into the world of the fey. But that is where the similarities end. The Iron King is a much darker tale.
On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Meghan Chase is confronted with a scene straight out of Pet Cemetery when she and her mother are attacked by her four year old brother. Her best friend Robbie (aka the famous Puck) saves her and reveals that her brother has been switched with a faery changeling and the only way to get him back is to find the kidnapper in the Nevernever (aka faeryland).
The world of the faery is as terrifying as it is beautiful. In her quest, Meghan is nearly eaten several times, ripped apart by trolls, drowned by nixies, impaled by a prince, raped by a herd of satyrs, and boiled by Goblins. And that's not even half of it. There is nothing sweet and gentle about the fey in this book.
There are a number of amusing characters who aid/impede Meghan along the way, most notably the cait sith Grimilkin (who is straight out of Alice in Wonderland), and the inevitable love interest Ash, youngest son of the Winter Queen and sworn enemy of Puck. The animosity between Puck and Ash along with each one's motivation for helping Meghan was a constant thread of entertainment.
Meghan does a fairly good job of acclimating to the revelations Puck presents her with. She struggles initially with the idea that faeries are real, but she doesn't blindly cling to her former reality either. She adapts and learns, and rarely makes the same mistake twice. Nor does she allow herself to become distracted from saving her brother. I did find some of her dialogue to be somewhat juvenile and her interest in Ash seemed to have little motivation beyond how 'inhumanly beautiful' he was.
I think what I enjoyed the most about The Iron King was the twist on the traditional fey mythology involving iron. I don't want to give anything away so I won't elaborate, but be ready to start counting down the months until August when The Iron Daughter is released as there is a bit of a cliffhanger ending. In the meantime I have a sudden nostalgic desire to watch Labyrinth.
Sexual Content: Kissing
28 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Iron King (Harlequin Teen) (Paperback)Take Labyrinth, crash it full-speed into The Neverending Story, and mix well with The Matrix, and that's just a taste of the wildly imaginative ride you'll go on when you read THE IRON KING. It's such a pleasure to read a contemporary fantasy that's fresh and full of action, and doubly a pleasure to read the first of a series that stands completely on its own. This book is a fantastic voyage and a satisfying read, and now I'm heartbroken that I have to wait until next fall to get another bite. Highly recommended!
56 of 76 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars TOTAL RIP-OFF OF LABYRINTH!!!,
This review is from: The Iron King (Harlequin Teen) (Paperback)Am I the only one who noticed that this book is an absolute, total rip-off of the 1986 Jim Henson film, Labyrinth???
Julie Kagawa should be sued by the Jim Henson Company for plagiarism.
The similarities are just too many to ignore:
16 year old girl's baby brother is stolen by a faerie king who rules goblins/gremlins? Check.
Step parent? Check.
Big, tied up creature who should be eating said girl & companions but instead helps them escape after she unties him & sets him free? Check.
Said creature growling "Friend" in reference to girl who set him free? Check!
Romantic dance in a ballroom wearing a pretty gown with a dark, dangerous but alluring faerie prince/king? Check.
Lost in a garbage dump surrounded by little creatures that collect junk & tie them to their backs so they look like walking mounds of junk? Check.
Eating of faerie fruit offered by loyal side-kick with bad results? Check.
Huge metal robot-type thing hell-bent on killing/thwarting heroine and & loyal posse on their way to the king's castle? Check.
When girl finally comes face to face with faerie king who stole her brother, he offers her everything; his entire kingdom and all he has to offer in return for her love? Yup. Check.
The real question here is: what DIDN'T Julie Kagawa steal from Labyrinth???
Errr.. the answer to that question is the Cheshire Cat thinggie which she stole from Alice in Wonderland - and don't get me started on the similarities between those two!
Its a shame, really. I SO wanted to love this book but as I kept reading, the only thing that ran through my mind was "You have GOT to be kidding me. Did she just pop the DVD in and write down what she saw?"
All I can say is this - If you've seen Labyrinth, then you've read this book; don't waste your time & money!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars clumsily written, underdeveloped characters and plot,
This review is from: The Iron King (Harlequin Teen) (Kindle Edition)I honestly do not understand how this book has such a high rating. It was so difficult to get through. I love fantasy and I adore Shakespeare and the book was recommended by a friend. Yet the writing was sloppy and clumsy, the characters were annoying and lacked motive and realism (I don't mean realism in the sense that they were mythological, that was fine with me... it was that they didn't respond to situations with normal emotions and reactions. they were very much like caricatures) and the plot was very slow moving and predictable. I also wanted to wring the neck of the annoying twit who was narrating/plaguing us with her uninteresting thoughts. not a great read, I would not recommend it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Weak Female,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Iron King (Harlequin Teen) (Kindle Edition)I read this book based on a review from someone I know and do not agree with that person at all. I would love to have loved this book, but I thought the author spent a little too much time describing worlds instead of letting you experience them and I hate main characters that are weak, especially weak female characters. She doesn't work/try for anything, she whines and people feel sorry for her so they help her or things just happen to fall into her lap. Found her personality grating.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unoriginal and lacking in charm,
This review is from: The Iron King (Harlequin Teen) (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program (What's this?)I love teen fantasy, so I was really excited to pick this book up. But the book never quite gripped me; the only character who truly felt real was Meghan's little brother Ethan, who isn't even in most of the book.
While I think it's fun when people take ideas from classic storylines, this book just took it too far. It was a mess of fantasy cliches and it didn't feel like it was merely taking a spark of inspiration from Labyrinth and Shakespeare and classic mythology, it felt like she created this crazy unoriginal mashup of it all, and the result was hard to believe in.
I struggled to finish it, as a 32 year old reader. The cover led me to believe it was in that recent genre of teen fantasy that adults love too, but I think this one might actually be better for children, because they might be unfamiliar with the storylines this book stole.
I wouldn't say the writing was bad, it just didn't have that special spark that happens when someone creates a world that is truly different and feels real. I'd skip this book and go for Storm Born, by Richelle Mead, for a similar storyline that is much more engaging for adult readers.
28 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I don't understand why everyone thinks this book is so great.,
This review is from: The Iron King (Harlequin Teen) (Paperback)Okay, first off I didn't hate this book... it's not the worst book ever, I just didn't think it was very good. I really wanted to like it, I really did. I saw that it had 4 1/2 stars and I was intrigued by the back cover (I love things with fairies) but as I sat down to read it I was sorely disappointed (maybe because I had really high hopes).
So here is the basic premise: There's a girl, Meghan Chase, and her life kind of sucks. She's poor, her mom and stepdad overlook her, and she only has one friend at school. The book starts on the eve of Meghan's 16th birthday and we are led to believe that something significant is going to happen to her... I actually really liked the way that this was set up. The beginning of the book was good. It built up a nice amount of mystery. Some strange things happen to Meghan at school and then at home and it made me start to feel a little sympathy for Meghan. I liked her one friend -prankster Robbie- and her little brother Ethan, who is super cute and very sweet, even though he's a little spoiled. But I liked him, so when he is kidnapped by fairies and replaced with an evil fairy child, forcing Meghan to go into the world of Fairie to rescue him I was intrigued. Unfortunately this is where the story starts getting worse instead of better.
First we find out that Meghan's best, and only friend, Robbie is really a fairy named Puck (from midsummer night's dream), which bugged me! I was hoping for an original character. But I will give the author this... she did a good job writing puck.. he was probably one of the more interesting characters. Unfortunately I cannot say as much for the books heroine, Meghan. She bugged the crap out of me! Some other reviewers have referred to her as strong, which is true, but she is also selfish and disrespectful, rash and rarely listens to other people. It also bugged me that after finding out that her brother was taken she never asks Robbie/Puck why. She doesn't say "hey why would fairies want my brother?" She's just like lets go get him. And basically I just found her unsympathetic.... but that wasn't even my main problem with the book.
My biggest disappointment with this book was that I thought it was going to be much more of a love story, but the love story doesn't have much of a role until about 200 pages into the book and up until this point she spends much of her time roaming around with a TALKING CAT. And, although I actually liked this cat character, when your expecting a love story and instead you get an obnoxious girl running around with a talking cat, it's kind of disappointing. But I will say this, when the love story part finally did come into play I was interested... I'm a sucker for a handsome 'evil' prince. Unfortunately I can't say it was a great love story. It was a little on the flat side. There were a couple of good lines -some of which are at printed in the book before the start- but other than that it was only so so. I am sure that there will be other's who will really like it, but I just found it a little unoriginal.
My other problem was that I felt as if the author tried to cram way too much stuff into this story. The author did have awesome detailed descriptions, but because so many events happened in this book I felt as if half of the words used in this story were used to describe scenery, because Meghan was constantly moving around. She was in the real world, then she was in Fairie, then she was in the Seelie court, then she was back in the real world, then she was back in the Unseelie court... and it just kept going. And I can't even count how many times Meghan finds herself in a near death situation which she narrowly escapes -which for me made the book completely tensionless, which was too bad because it is obvious (from her many descriptions) that this author has a great imagination. I just wished she had taken out some of this books events and expanded on the others so that as a reader I could have felt more connected to the story. There wasn't that much build up to events, aside from the ending, stuff just happened, and it happened at once... and none of the villains were that threatening either. I think it was because in every scene there is a new bad guy, so each of these villains is on the one dimensional side.
So, sadly I can't really recommend this story, but I think I am in the minority with this.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible Execution,
This review is from: The Iron King (Harlequin Teen) (Paperback)The Iron King had plenty of potential, but failed in execution on many levels.
1) Meghan is a terrible protagonist. She comes off as whiney, bitter, and lacking any redeeming qualities to make me want to see her grow. Not to mention she is too foolish to be believable. How many times are you going to make a deal that could cost you something high? After a while, it comes across as stupid behavior instead of courageous or what have you.
The way she treats her brother confused me. Did she truly care about him or found him to be a nuisance? I couldn't tell. It was so poorly constructed that I couldn't understand how she really felt toward her brother, who she refers to as her `half-brother', making me first think she disliked him somewhat.
Also, the other characters are not worth my interest. It's a pity because they very well could be, but Meghan TELLS me EVERYTHING that I couldn't enjoy the personality of someone like Puck (who could have been very fun) because her point of view treats me like I'm an idiot. A lot of this goes back to...
2) The writing. It's not bland, I'll give it that, but it's almost all "tell" and no "show". The writing made me feel that the author thought I was an idiot, needing everything to be told and spelled out when readers are able to determine emotions/etc from body language and other clues. The author also stretches it too much, as though trying to sound cute with how she `creatively' expressed something, only it did nothing of the sort. Nothing in the writing helped to develop any character, especially Meghan.
3) The overall plot. I really did liked the idea of the Iron King, but, again, the way it was constructed failed. There are far too many moments where something conveniently happens to get the story going, which makes it cheap. A bunch of stuff happens to Meghan but most of it is either not driven by her and/or not helping to establish/develop who she is. I didn't find the reason for Meghan getting Ash to tag along justified either. It was another forced plot device.
4) The world. This part should have been fun, and, again, the idea had great potential. However, it felt like the author was trying to throw every mythical creature at you to get your attention in that, `hey! I included them too!' way, though they served no purpose. They pop in and out and I'm left wondering why the heck they needed to even show up if they were only there to fatten up the pages. It's not that you can't have a lot of mythical creatures involved, but throwing them in to just bulk up the world isn't enough.
5) The `romance'. It was forced, dry, and should not have taken place in the first book. If Ash was showing interest in her, the author did a terrible job of showing that. He seems disinterested in Meghan, if only vaguely curious about her being the half-human in his world. Then, suddenly, he seems to like her without having gradually taken us there. Meghan also assumes too much; she thinks she and Ash have something going on and when he dismisses her, she throws a crying fit.
Her unfair treatment of Puck aggravates this. I don't think she needs to automatically fall for the guy who has been good to her (versus Ash who wanted her dead at one point), but it says a lot about her that she mistreats him in favor for making goo-goo eyes over the prince who, I thought, carried no interest in her.
Mash it all together and it made for a headache. I was confused more often than not. The writing was mediocre, unable to add depth to characters, and the plot was riddled with too many holes (or "convenient" moments) that I couldn't forgive. I heard the books get better after this one but this one was too poorly done for me to bother with the next one.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, but not quite worth the hype,
This review is from: The Iron King (Harlequin Teen) (Paperback)See more of my reviews sooner on The YA Kitten!
Stories of the fey are typically not my cup of tea, but the Iron Fey series has so much praise going for it from my friends that I've always considered the series. Kagawa's vampire novel The Immortal Rules was good enough to make me consider it further, and I've finally taken the leap. Really, being the odd one out all the time like this is getting irritating. I fail to see what has so many of my friends enchanted.
The Iron King left me unimpressed overall, but Kagawa's worldbuilding deserves some applause. If there is any one element in the novel that is outstanding, it's this. Her idea of how the iron fey came to be is actually quite ingenious and she makes the well-used details of the fey's Summer/Seelie and Winter/Unseelie Courts feel somewhat fresh. More than a few times, I was reminded of the movie Labyrinth, which is pretty much something everyone who has seen the movie can say about this book.
Still, it draws too much on Labyrinth at times and I stop enjoying the similarities. Subtle parallels are okay, such as those to Sailor Moon in Cinder by Marissa Meyer, but The Iron King went above and beyond in that respect. The overindulgence in cliches and lack of depth made it harder and harder to enjoy the novel. Our brooding hero Ash the insta-love he and Meghan have, the stereotypes of the human high school students,... Cliches should be played with, not played straight.
From the time Meghan called a cheerleader ""inflate-a-boob" Angie", I disliked her. I forgave some of her dumb actions in the novel because she had no idea what they fey were like and was slowly learning, but some things are simply unforgivable. Like being told not to run because the enemy will see her and then running to a police officer as if he could help her with fey-possesseed humans. That's just--- There are no words. The with the satyrs trying to rape Meghan and Ash saving her from them bothered me far worse than that. THIS IS NOT A WAY TO DEVELOP A ROMANCE. IT NEEDS TO DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH.
So they spend the entire novel traveling to get to the Iron Kingdom and rescue Ethan, and once they get there and meet Machina, the Iron King, it's all over just like that. So much anticipation for a few pages of a speech (one so creepy that I made a GIF-worthy horrorface) and then that's it. What I'd heard about Machina played on one of my tropey weakness of the villain wanting the heroine and was yet another factor in why I finally jumped into this series. Such a quick ending was disappointing.
Because I'm dumb like that, I faith-bought the entire series at once and can't return them. Maybe I'll get to the other books of Kagawa's series at some point and see if they are any better than The Iron King. It feels like this review is too short, but there's simply no more I feel needs to be said.
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The Iron King (Harlequin Teen) by Julie Kagawa (Paperback - February 1, 2010)