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Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Iron King, The Icebound Land, and Starclimber mini-reviews

The Iron King (The Iron Fey #1) by Julie Kagawa

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.

Released: February 1, 2010       Pages: 363
Publisher: Harlequin Teen       Source: Library

I've been hearing about this for a long time, and finally my curiosity got the better of me.   It got off to a not-so-great start, for me.  The beginning was too stereotypical.  It was so predictable and was the kind of paranormal book beginning that you could change a few names and slap onto any other paranormal book and call it good. 

Thankfully, it picked up after awhile.  I loved the land of the fey.  It was beautifully described, and incredibly rich and unique and complex.  I met some weird yet fun (sometimes) creatures.  I also met some weird and fun characters, whom I liked, for the most part.  They seemed to have a decent amount of depth to them.

This book surprised me a bit, actually.  It was more lighthearted than I expected.  I was fully prepared for 363 pages of dark paranormal angst with some fey mythology thrown in.  It ended up being lighter on the angst and heavier on some stuff that was just plain fun.  Like the cat. 

I liked this.  I have my issues, but overall it was a good read.  I'll be checking out the sequel.

 The Icebound Land (Ranger's Apprentice #3) by John Flanagan

Kidnapped after the fierce battle with Lord Morgarath, Will and Evanlyn are bound for Skandia as captives aboard a fearsome wolfship. Halt has sworn to rescue Will, and he will do anything to keep his promise, even defy his King. Expelled from the Rangers he has served so loyally, Halt is joined by Will's friend Horace as he travels toward Skandia. On their way, they are challenged constantly by freelance knights, but Horace knows a thing or two about combat. Soon he begins to attract the attention of knights and warlords for miles around with his uncanny skill. Even so, will they be in time to rescue Will from a horrific life of slavery?

The smash hit series continues with another heart stopping adventure.

Released: November 25th, 2005     Pages: 266
Publisher: Puffin Books                Source: Library

So far, this series is improving book by book.  It's not a completely obvious, smack-in-your-face kind of difference, but it's getting better gradually.  I'm seeing more and more depth in the characters and the plot is getting more intense.  The stakes are higher.  Yay.  (I'm still holding out for some kind of supermassive epic showdown in the final book.)

It has issues, though.  Like the plot issue.  Some of the plot elements don't seem plausible, or they're a stretch to believe.  I'm prepared to let it slide, though, because it's still enjoyable. 

Another issue is the writing.  There's some major headhopping going on, and it gets disorienting.  And John Flanagan doesn't know the difference between horses and ponies, apparently.  He refers to the same animal as both a horse and a pony.  What is it, Mr. Flanagan?  It can't be both.  (More on this at the bottom of this post.)

Still, I can look past this series' shortcomings and enjoy it.  I'll definitely be reading the fourth book.

Reviews of other Ranger's Apprentice novels:
Starclimber (Matt Cruse #3) by Kenneth Oppel          
"Mr. Cruse, how high would you like to fly?" A smile soared across my face.
"As high as I possibly can."

Pilot-in-training Matt Cruse and Kate de Vries, expert on high-altitude life-forms, are invited aboard the Starclimber, a vessel that literally climbs its way into the cosmos. Before they even set foot aboard the ship, catastrophe strikes:

Kate announces she is engaged—and not to Matt.

Despite this bombshell, Matt and Kate embark on their journey into space, but soon the ship is surrounded by strange and unsettling life-forms, and the crew is forced to combat devastating mechanical failure. For Matt, Kate, and the entire crew of the Starclimber, what began as an exciting race to the stars has now turned into a battle to save their lives.

Award-winning and bestselling author Kenneth Oppel brings us back to a rich world of flight and fantasy in this breathtaking new sequel to Airborn and Skybreaker.

Released: Februrary 24th, 2009     Pages: 390
Publisher: HarperTeen                  Source: Library

This book has a gorgeous cover.  It's cooler in real life.  It managed to be pretty without alienating boys, which is a rare find these days.

I just...don't know what to say about this book.  It's beautiful.  It's exciting and crammed with suspense and exhilarating and emotional and just plain cool.  And it's also kinda funny.  What more could you ask for in a book? 

I love the main characters, Matt and Kate.  They make an interesting pair--they're each lovable on their own, and have their own personalities.  But together, they're unstoppable.  Romance writers: take note.

Kenneth Oppel is a master of writing emotion.  He grabs hold of his readers' hearts, and then breaks them into tiny pieces.  Then he waves his magical writing wand and makes it all better again. (Or sometimes the other way around, like the ending of This Dark Endeavor.) Sometimes in the space of about four pages.  He did this to me again in Starclimber.  I was getting close to writing a rather strong letter to the author...but then he pulled something awesome out into the story and made me realize that my reaction was, in fact, exactly as he intended.  New Year's resolution: spend an hour each day balancing an Oppel book on my head so maybe some of this skill will diffuse into my own writing.

My only complaint with this book is with Tobias.  I wanted to learn more about him, but I never got to.  I kept waiting for the big reveal, but it never came.  Still, this is only a minor problem compared to the rest of the story.

This series is awesome.  Recommended for, uh, everyone.
Reviews of other Matt Cruse novels:
Airborn (Matt Cruse #1)
Skybreaker (Matt Cruse #2)

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1 comment:

  1. The Iron Fey is my favorite series! I had a lot of troubles with the first book (I actually stopped many times and almost stopped reading altogether) but it's amazing how the author's writing and the plot gets SO much better with every book she writes. I can't wait to read your review on the rest of the series Annie. :)


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