Novel Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

It seemed like as if every blog I came across had a review, interview, or giveaway about the Iron King by Julie Kagawa. At first I ignored it, cause young adult (YA) wasn’t my thing. But then my daughter told me I should try some YA stuff. If you follow my blog regularly, you know I’m a paranormal romance (PR) fan all the way. But occasionally I step out of my comfort zone. All the hype about the Iron King did it for me. So, being the contest junkie I am, I set off to entering and hoping my name would be pulled out off the bag. Just as I was about to throw in the towel and order the damned book myself, I got a wonderful email from Mandi at Smexy Books saying I won! Hell yeah! I hopped into the book almost as soon as it arrived. The teaser from Ms. Kagawa’s website:

My name is Meghan Chase.

In less than twenty-four hours I’ll be sixteen. Countless stories, songs and poems have been written about this wonderful age, when a girl finds true love and the stars shine for her and the handsome prince carries her off into the sunset.

I don’t think it will be that way for me.

Not bad, right? So I started this book knowing nothing about it, only it was a hot item. Like the last few novels I’d read, this was also in first person. I’m starting to see first person narrative is quite common once I venture away from the (PR) genre. I thought the writing started out very strong. Excellent sentence variations which had a nice flow to it.

Now keep in mind, YA is not my forte. So what’s acceptable and not acceptable in this genre is beyond me. Even so, when I picture YA, this is not what came to mind. At times the novel seemed like a fairytale one would tell elementary school children–too fantastic to believe. At other times, it seemed more like a novel with adults in mind. It just didn’t fit either here nor there in my mind. For example, I had a hard time picturing broad-chested teenagers with deep voices. In fact, I snicker every time it comes to mind. Yet Meghan seemed to notice this on boys. It kind of reminds me of the mid-twenty and thirty year olds playing high schoolers on TV these days. Speaking of old men and young girls. Why is it so many shows these days portray high school girls with men 100s of years old? What’s the deal with that? I just couldn’t get into the idea of Meg crushing on this ancient elf. Call me a prude. I know I am in this area, but can’t help it.

Anyway, back to the novel. Let’s talk about the MC. In terms of MC, Meghan didn’t seem all that spectacular. Truly, she seemed more like a gal along for the ride. Very few things she did altered the turn of events. I would have liked her to play a more active role.

In terms of her internal workings, Meghan reminded me a lot of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz–not the book, but the movie. Like Judy Garland at age 16 trying to play a 12-year-old, Meg’s personality didn’t seem age appropriate either. At times her mentality was very adult-like, particularly at the beginning in dealing the interpersonal relationships of her brother and step-father. Even the teaser above, which is actually an excerpt from the book, seems a bit old in the mentality. Do teenagers really think like that? I don’t know. It’s been so many years, I seem to have forgotten. I would absolutely love a teen’s perspective on this. On the other hand, Meg’s actions seemed very childlike. For me, her internal voice didn’t coincide with her actions.

Meg’s verbal language also seemed a bit off to me. In my experience, the way people use language is often associated with the people they are around. For a gal who had no friends other than Puck, she sure did manage to acquire a potty mouth/brain. The way she used foul language made her sound like an adult at times. Again, this may be my lack of familiarity with the YA genre. My personal opinion, taking into account my inexperienced of the YA and middle grade (MG) genres, is this book would fit into the MG genre if not for the language, violence, and sex talk. I think all of the more graphic items could have been written out while preserving the integrity of the story. Just my thoughts.

On to the plot! Hmmm. I hate saying not so great things about another author’s piece of work, but really I found the plot unoriginal. It was like reading bits and pieces of popular works. For example, it included aspects of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan’s “I do believe in fairies,” the importance of faith in Narnia, and Dorothy’s journey to get back home in the Wizard of Oz. Now the lack of originality didn’t make the novel bad. Rather it just was not spectacular because it’d already been done. Still, I think this book would make a great movie just because of the fairytale aspects.

I also found the story to be more event driven than plot or character driven at times. I think if a few scenes had been cut, it would have held my attention a bit longer. It comes back to the question: How does this scene drive the story forward?

One item I really think the Iron King had going for it was clever dialogue, both internal and spoken. Silly at times, but I definitely enjoyed the banter. So, a couple of my favorite lines:

  • He continued washing his tail for several heartbeats, while I fought the urge to grab that tail and swing him around my head like a bolo. (Yep. I’ve been in these moods before.)
  • I felt him smile. “You make me feel alive again,” he murmured. (So touching–wish someone would say that to me.)

Overall, I thought the novel was an OK read.

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