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on March 20, 2011
I liked it, I didn't like it, I liked it I didn't like it IlikeditIdidn'tlikeit...
I'm torn.
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.

PROS

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.

CONS
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.
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VINE VOICEon February 16, 2010
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
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on May 3, 2016
Let me preface this by saying I am a reader - an extremely avid reader who generally enjoys reading books from across the spectrum of genre. And I love book series! In fact, over the last few years, I generally only select books that are a series as one book is never enough for me, which I why I selected The Iron King. I thought I had found another great series. I could not have been more wrong.
This is truly a poor man's Alice in Wonderland. The story line takes forever to take shape, and the first half of the book seems to be one disjointed description of a fantasy object after another. Bland characters. A storyline that lacks any kind of depth. Never before have I wanted to quit on a book as badly as I did this one. I literally had to force myself to finish it, and for the first time EVER, I will not be reading the second book in the series. I just reviewed my reading history, and over the last 7 years, I have read nearly 300 books. As far as I can recall, I have never given a book a negative review....until now. It was bad. Just plain bad. I can't say it any more plainly than that.
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on January 9, 2016
Not too bad a story, for a teen romance. This only rated barely two stars as an adult reed.
There is insta-love, and a lot of hair pulling, gnashing of teeth and running around crying. Ash is so gosh darn gorgeous, and Puck is stuck in a tree (because you know we have to have a love triangle).
Our Cheshire Cat character was probably the most interesting and Real character there. It would have been better if the story adventure were a bit more connected logically and a bit less hither and yon. I also found it hard to like a main character who while selfless was willing to throw her life away continuously in bad bargain after bad bargain just to rescue her brother. I get the Labyrinth like "Goblin King take this boy to get his queen". (Seriously I kept seeing David Bowie singing "goblin babe" when in the iron king' realm).
In the end, this is a book for teen girls who love impossible romances between the ordinary girl who turns out to be a princess and her thousand year old suitor who looks eighteen, with a gorgeous body and touchable hair.

Parental note: not too much, a few curse words, and one kiss. Age appropriate, though week female heroines always irritate me.

This won't be on our purchase list for the library unless I can get it for cheep and more than one student asks for it. I just don't see many of our students going back and rereading this.
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on September 27, 2015
Age range: 13+
The Iron King starts out with your fairly standard awkward teen girl who doesn’t quite fit in. This one, Meghan, has a single (male) friend, her best friend since childhood, and gets picked on for being not very attractive, zapping anything electronic (she only gets to use the old computers at school and doesn’t have a cellphone), and for being almost entirely forgettable when not around – even her rather good-natured stepfather seems to forget her very existence unless their talking to each other. Her father, of whom she has many fond, sweet memories, has been gone since she was five—some say suicide, others that he ditched, but she knows he loved her very much and wouldn’t have left of his own choice.
Well, stick with it because it gets so much better! The character may start off a bit cliché, but she quickly gets swept up into the world of the fey in an attempt to rescue her four-year-old half-brother, Ethan, who was kidnapped (a very mean, creepy changeling left in his place) all because he was her sister. Which means she’s no ordinary girl. Her real father (no, not the father from long ago who she remembers fondly) is the king of the fey, Oberon, and she is half-human, half-fey, a foot in both worlds (which is why she is so easily forgettable; fey magic places blinders on mortals). Oh, and that best friend from childhood? That’s Puck (Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, anyone?), also known as Robin Greenfellow or Robbie, an old and powerful fey sent by Oberon to protect and eventually wipe the fey from Meghan. On the night the potion to wipe the fey – and her ability to see the fey – from her mind was to be drunk, her sixteenth birthday of course, her brother is kidnapped and Meghan convinces Robbie to take her to the heart of the fey world to rescue him. From then on she is swept up in a bizarre world where no deal comes at a little price but with heavy strings attached and in which all the many fey who detest humans are skeptical of her and what power she might wield as Oberon’s daughter. This power she is completely ignorant of and unable to harness, requiring help from several unsavory and potentially very untrustworthy fey (including one very much like the Cheshire cat and another tall, dark, and the son of the evil Queen Mab) if she has any hope of wrestling her brother from the mysterious but most certainly evil new fey king, the king of the iron fey.
I could not put this book down. Well-written, well-paced, with well-crafted, interesting characters, even cliché Meghan quickly develops into someone much more, and she has much farther to grow in this series. I am very eager to read the rest and highly recommend this book. Kagawa masterfully crafts together old world fey mythology with modern society and the idolatrous worship of our own technology. Her world interweaved with mythology and modern society is skillfully handled and reminiscent of Percy Jackson but written at a higher level of depth for an older teen audience. My only complaint: I do not like Meghan’s cliché taste in men, but I’m hoping Kagawa will show me how wrong I am in the next book as she did concerning my first thought that Meghan herself was cliché.
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on May 15, 2011
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.
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on February 25, 2016
I thought this book was going to be good, but I didn't think that It was going to be this damn good! The plot is amazing, and the characters were great. Kagawa wrote this book brilliantly, it felt as if you were seeing everything before your very eyes. This book made me love the fantasy genre even more and it is defiantly one of the best Fantasy novels I've ever read. It had everything you could ever want; creepy creatures, constant action, romance!, magic, courage and suspense! It kind of reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, but they are extremely different in many ways.

Meghan has never fit in at school, or even at home. Her father disappeared on her sixth birthday, but there was no trace of where or why he left, all that was left were his shoes by the edge of a pond that Meghan and her dad were sitting by. He wasn't in the water, police searched everywhere, no suitcases were packed, he simply disappeared into thin air. Meghan has yet to understand where her father went. Now, she lives with her mom, stepfather, little brother and dog, Beau.
It's Meghan's sixteenth birthday, and she cannot wait to get her drivers license, she can only hope that this day turns out great. Her one and only best friend Robbie is going to come over after school with champagne, and the hottest guy at school asks her to sit at his table, How could this day possibly get any better? Well that's what Meghan thought, until she was humiliated in front of the whole school, and goes home to her mom injured and passed out on the ground and her brother acting strangely. Meghan has no idea what's going on, her mom is fine, but her brother is not himself--at all. He goes crazy, and Robbie comes over. His protective side kicks in, and he tells Meghan what's wrong with her brother, and reveals secrets that have been kept from her since they've known each other. Now, She knows who Robbie really is, and she has to enter Nevernever with him to save her brother...she has no idea what to expect....
But she never expected what she saw before her eyes. She cannot believe that this world was hidden from her. She encounters numerous creatures; some that cause her trouble, and some that help her. Like Grimalkin, the gray cat that speaks, and brings her to where she needs to go. Meghan discovers more secrets that shock her, and she finally meets the prince in her dreams and the one she's encountered before, Ash. She does not like him one bit for what he did, but he's intriguing, she can't help herself...
Their quest starts, Meghan, Robbie, Grimalkin and the Ash start the search for her brother. They must figure out who has taken him, and how they can save him. Meghan discovers who she truly is, meets new people and has to encounter the evil Iron King.

WOW WOW WOW! This book was amazing, I still can't get over at how good it was! I recommend it without a doubt
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on July 1, 2013
I was utterly and completely blown away by this book. I had no expectations going into it and though it started off at a snail's pace, it soon picked up momentum and once I got to the chapter where the terrifying changeling came into the picture, there was no turning back. There's an unmistakeable dark edge to this story which I found both enticing and mesmeric.

The Iron King is one of the rare books where I loved absolutely everything about it. I'll confess that this is the first book I've read by Julie Kagawa, but sure as heck will not be the last. I was captivated from the very first page, but two chapters into the story I did feel that it was moving a little too slow for my taste, yet I was too curious about Meghan's dad's disappearance to abandon it. Only further on did I realize why it was necessary to get to know Meghan's family and her life at school first, and find out more about her past. All that background info is vital to the story. The minute I understood that, it was smooth sailing all the way.

Where shall I start? OK, let's start with Meghan. Ya'll know by now I have a low tolerance for clichéd, bratty female protagonists, right? Well, Meghan ain't one of "those". And really, this is where I want to shake the author's hand and maybe put up a statue in her honor, simply because she had so much faith in her protagonist, she knew she could push her to her limits to show us what Meghan is made of. There is nothing typical about Meghan. She doesn't have it easy at school (no really, the kids put her through hell), she lives on a pig farm in the boondocks and gets ridiculed by the popular crowd at school, while at home she is practically ignored by her mother, and her stepfather treats her as though she doesn't exist. But all that is nothing compared to what she has to endure in the Nevernever. Honestly, there were times I was convinced there is no way she was going to make it through to the end in one piece. And I have the utmost respect for an author who can put her protagonist through the wringer again and again and again. What made Meghan even more convincing was that she never pitied herself or complained about the horrors she had to endure, but quietly gave in to her emotions only when there was no-one around to hear her. Meghan is not a butt-kicking character. Still, she showed a strength beyond her years which I could only admire. The rest of the characters - Puck, Ash, Grim, and just about every single character in this novel - is well rounded out and plays an integral part in the development of the plot. It is saturated with memorable characters which you'll either love to love, or love to hate. But either way, there's not one bland character in this superb fantasy.

I have to mention that my number one favorite character is unquestionably Grimalkin, the cat (or rather a Cait Sith). He's intelligent, sneaky, witty, and proudly embraces every typical cat trait you can think of. My other favorite creature characters were the pack rats. They were incredibly adorable in their odd way; so much so it almost made me cry.

Kagawa's imaginative and clever world-building in this story is nothing less than spectacular and way beyond impressive! Every single page is an endless feast for the imagination. The combination of fantasy and technology in Faeryland and the modern world, had me marvelling at the resourcefulness of this author's mind. The breathtaking beauty of the Summer and Winter courts, in stark contrast to the wastelands of the Iron court, helped set the mood of the novel and steadily drew me deeper and deeper into the Nevernever. I also enjoyed the parts of the story that took place in the real world and I was awed at how smoothly the story transitioned between these two worlds. Everything felt so real.

The dialogue is fluid, stimulating and suits each character perfectly. Expect stellar writing, heart-stopping scenes, and an exceptionally riveting plot should you choose to read this book. The sequence of events happens timely, and the action is intense and highly gratifying. To my relief the romance is kept to a minimum and only glides along in the background. I only hope it stays that way for the rest of the series. The ending wasn't exactly what I wanted it to be, but it still came to a satisfying conclusion with a wide opening for book two on which to continue. The Iron King is a book I refused to put down, even when my vision started blurring at the edges, but I simply couldn't tear myself away from it. I highly recommend it to all who enjoys a fantasy novel filled with characters and creatures born only from the wildest of imaginations. It deserves countless stars for unadulterated fantasy perfection.
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on April 2, 2015
When Meaghan Chase starts seeing weird things at school, she thinks nothing of it. It isn't until her brother goes missing and her quirky prankster best friend decides maybe it's time to tell her the truth. Meaghan then starts her journey into the world of the fey. Seeing things she never though possible and uncovering some pieces of a secret past.

This is a great read, kept me on the edge of my seat and the world building was awesome. It was beautifully described and the Nevernever came alive across the pages of the book. I can't wait to read the next one!
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on February 4, 2014
This series was recommended by a friend that shares my interest in YA, historical fiction and everything in between. I’m so glad she recommended this one!

Kagawa revives story-lines and writing styles from the Romantic and Victorian periods with a very modern twist. And, I absolutely loved the references to Shakespeare’s A Midnight Summer’s Dream, a favorite of mine.

She effortlessly incorporates action, suspense, love and social disorder while staying true to her influences.

This book is filled with symbolism and a great hidden message which I find ironic in itself. The Iron King is born of modern-day technology and advances, and his very existence threatens both old Winter and Summer courts. Whether intended or not, Kagawa reminds us that computers, video games and iPods threaten our creativity and erase classic literature from this modern society.

All of this in the first book! I cannot wait to read the rest of the series.
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