So it took me awhile to finish this one, despite the fact that I was breezing along very early on. For a refresher on my early review, check out my Initial Thoughts post.
Okay, so before starting to read this book, lower your expectations. And I don’t mean this in a bad way. I came in expecting a lot, because this book was sold quite strongly to me but I feel that if you come in with a fresh and open mind, you might like it.
As previously mentioned, Meghan is 16. There are lots of books out there in the YA market that are about 16 year-olds that are great; they have beautiful language, descriptions, emotions, etc. But this is one book where the narration read like my 16-year old self: whiny and immature. This in itself (sounding like a 16 year old) doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but Meghan’s voice quickly became annoying as she acted and reacted to her brother’s kidnapping. Many times throughout the story, Meghan sounds quite immature, despite the maturity and depth Kagawa is trying to build into her character. Many times, her reactions and words just felt flat. I wanted to care for her, but just couldn’t.
Ash is another character who I wanted to like, but just couldn’t. He fell flat even more than Meghan for me, especially because it felt like the way he was described on the back cover was exactly how he was in the story. I wanted to know why he was icy and why he kept switching from hot to cold every second, but Kagawa didn’t deliver. He was the typical Edward archetype, but without any depth. He was described on the back cover as being a cold prince who would rather see Meghan dead and this was briefly described, but there wasn’t much more. I think there’s more back story to him though, especially in his relationship with his mom and his family but it just isn’t given here.
Ah, Puck. I had such high hopes for him as being the best friend who vies passionately for the girl. I loved him when he was first introduced, thinking that he was going to be a strong contender. He wasn’t. As soon as Meghan and Puck enter the Neverwhere, Puck completely changes! Suddenly he’s funny and light and mischievous, which was completely different from how he was before, and as such, his attitude towards Meghan completely changed.
I sort of already alluded to the Puck/Meghan romance falling flat, but the Ash/Meghan romance also didn’t work out. I could see (painfully) where it was going but didn’t really care for it to go there. I use the word painfully because it wasn’t at all natural. I didn’t see the connection between the pair nor any sort of chemistry. Because Ash is the “cold prince”, it seems inevitable that his cold heart will thaw upon meeting Meghan, but their relationship felt completely contrived.
The story was cute: Meghan’s brother gets kidnapped by the Fey and she has to go to the Neverwhere to bring him back. Nothing too surprising or jarring happens on the way, so it was predictable and simple in that sense. It sort of reminded me fairytales my mom had told me when I was a kid, so there was sort of a feeling of nostalgia for me. But other than that, nothing extraordinary.
Don’t expect too much. The Iron King is a fun story but a cute storyline, but one that isn’t that engaging. The characters and romance felt empty to me several times, so that I couldn’t really get into it or feel invested in the characters’ futures. The most interesting part for me was the fact that Kagawa incorporated elements of A Midsummer’s Night Dream which made the story different. I don’t remember all the details, otherwise maybe I would have enjoyed it more. Another thing that I really liked was the juxtaposition between technology and magic, which was seen in the Iron Fey and their kingdom, which was a product of mankind’s obsession with ‘iron’ and technology. This was done well.
The Iron King is touted as a YA book, but for me it seemed to lean more on the children’s side, something almost akin to Ella Enchanted or something similar.
Thanks for reading,