Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Release Date: February 1, 2010
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Pages: 363
Received: Library
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 
Goodreads Page

Looking for a book that doesn't "feel" long for the 350 Page Books Challenge? This would be a great pick!


From Goodreads:

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.


Out of all the paranormal creatures, fairies are probably my least favorite of the bunch. They’re haughty and stiff and detached and just mean. I don’t like them. Enter Julie Kagawa, and I’ve now lifted my auto-ban on all things fairy.

A PLOT that made me swoon

The focus of this book is almost like a high  fantasy with one of my favorite things to read about: questing. I looove questing. I don’t even really care what the goal is. Find a brother, throw a ring in lava, whatever, just take me on a quest. And that’s exactly what Kagawa does.

Meghan is sent bouncing all over the place across both the fairy realm and the mortal realm in search of information, weapons, and, ultimately, her brother. With never a dull moment, I was at the edge of my seat and constantly entertained. Julie Kagawa's world building is wonderful, creating vivid images of the various landscapes and multitude of creatures Meghan encounters. I lost myself entirely in her world.

I'm not feeling these people 

So what’s with the lower rating? Because I’m a character girl, that’s why. With the exception of Grimalkin, they were all just a little, tiny bit lacking. I liked all of them, but I feel a little disconnect from them, like I don’t know their true selves. I also felt like there was a certain polish missing. There were some inconsistencies and some things the characters did that didn't make much sense to me or seemed to lack support. In a lot of ways this did read like a debut, which it is.

I loved Puck, but in this first book he’s not developed as much as I would have liked. He’s more the amusing sidekick than a full character in his own right. I like him, but I wanted more from him. His fighting style was pretty awesome though.

I’d heard so much about the amazing Prince Ash, and while there’s no denying he’s hot, I don’t think I love him quite as much as other people. Or, at least, I don’t love him for Meghan. His whole willingness to kill her sort of killed the romance for me. Their romance wasn’t overly annoying though, which I was happy about. It didn’t happen too quickly and it didn’t monopolize the story.

Then there’s Meghan herself. She’s…ok. I like her, but I don’t love her. I’ve heard people criticize her as weak, but I think her weakness is understandable. I like strong heroines, but I think she adjusted pretty well all things considered. As a first-person narrator, Meghan’s voice was nice to follow and not overly introspective.

My Team

My favorite character is Grimalkin. He’s a cat most people have compared to the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. I see that, but the character he really reminded me of even more was the cat in The Last Unicorn (I even picture him looking like that). Either way, Grimalkin rocked. He’s that sardonic, enigmatic character who always manages to appear when you need them but isn’t exactly your friend either. If Grimalkin was a human, I’d totally be Team Grimalkin. Since he’s, you know, a cat, I’m cheering instead of swooning.

The final word

I had first heard about this series from a reviewer who pretty much hated the books, so I had very low expectations. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much if I had only seen all the positive hype. The book doesn’t live up to the hype for me, but it did change my mind about fairies and it was a fun read. 

Objectively I feel like some things do need improvement, but I was so easily caught up in the book that it's almost like a guilty pleasure. I am glad I picked it up and I will be continuing with this series. 

On that note, this is book one of a series but I think it ended pretty well on its own. There are a few strings left for the story to continue on, but there aren’t any major cliffhangers and the main story arc wraps up nicely.

 Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Looking for something similar? 
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Paranormalcy by Kiersten White


  1. Humm that's definitely interesting I haven't read the series either. Although I do have all 3 of them. Seeing as how so many people did like it. It's nice to see one that's I guess a little skeptical I could say. :) I need to get caught up on my series reading.

  2. Great review! I think this series gets better as you go along so hopefully you will enjoy the second book more. Oh and I love Grimalkin too :)

  3. I've been contemplating whether or not to read this series for a long time. Just like you, faeries have never really been my thing which is why I usually tend to stay away from it. But if you liked this one then maybe I will too :)

  4. I've been eyeing this book for a while now and I have seen so many positive reviews about it. I have seen a lot of criticisms about the characters, however, which is a big issue for me. I'm sure I will read it eventually but I'm in no rush.

  5. I meant to send you my Iron King review for your comparison. I'd keep going with this series. I think Iron King is by far the weakest of the books simply for the reason of character development. The story is great. I love the complex world building. But Meghan is so blase and annoying in this book. She really comes into her own later on. I also thought Puck was annoying here (I'm not a big Puck fan in general). The characters have a lot more depth in the next two novels.

  6. Yay-you're Team Puck! I'm also not really a faerie books person except for Lesley Livingston's Wondrous Strange-I highly recommend that trilogy!

  7. Awesome review! I've seen so many glowing reviews of this book that it's nice to see a bit of a balanced review. Fabulous thoughts...I'd read it just for Grimalkin! ;)

  8. I definitely see where you are coming from with this someone who felt the same way. In my experience, the series only got better and if you're up for it, I would definitely give the next two books a shot. The Iron King was by far the best for me. Thanks for such an honest review!

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  10. Is this a new review format for you??

    I really like it. This format makes it so much easier to read the review, with the perfect amount of information.

    I like how its broken down into bite-sized pieces for easy digestion. Plus the catchy pink subtitles - loving them!

    *** Nicely done!! **

  11. Angelic Nytmare, I do recommend the book and it really very easy for me to get excited about it but, yes, pulling back from the hype I would say skeptical is a good word.

    Nic, Thank you! I’ve read the second book and I actually like it less and more. The action parts were really great, but I was dying through the whole beginning when Meghan was in Tir Na Nog. Grimalkin rocks though :)

    Lisanna, Have you checked out my Review Comparison for this book? You might find it helpful. Two other bloggers also said they don’t usually like fairy books but they liked The Iron King. I’d give it a shot if you’re curious.

    Alice, Really? I haven’t seen too many criticisms about the characters. Except for Meghan. I liked her in the first book but she drove me crazy in the second book. I’ll have my review for that one up in a few weeks.

    Alison, Ah, I didn’t even see you had one! I’ll look over your review index and see if there are any books there I’ve read and can use for the next RC. I agree, I’ve read the second book and the characters do seem a lot more developed. I’m really looking forward to reading the third book.

    Bookworm, Yes another Puck fan! :) I could go either way in the first book, but the second book made me solidly Team Puck. Thanks for the rec. I’ve actually avoided that series because it’s fairies, but now I think I’ll add it to my TBR since you’ve said it’s good and you don’t usually like fairy books either.

    Melissa, Thank you! I am really glad my first introduction to the series was a very negative review. There’s so much hype that I think I would have been disappointed otherwise. Grimalkin does make it all worthwhile though!

    Tara, I’ve read the second book (didn’t like it that much, especially the beginning) but I’m really looking forward to reading the third book. I even have it checked out from the library right now. I’m going to go check out your review of this book now!

    Gina, Oh good! I’m glad you like it. :) I’m trying to do something about my whole “WALL OF TEXT” thing I have going on usually. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do, but I’m trying this out for now. I don’t think I could do anything with strict and consistent headers like a lot of other reviewers, so I’m trying out the subtitles. I’m so glad you like them! I love how much feedback you give me. (Note the new rating inclusion in the review comparison post, courtesy of your brilliant suggestion)

  12. Very thoughtful review, Smalls. I hadn't really read many books about the Fae, and so TIK really blew me away.

    I think for Ash, the disconnect was intentional. The Winter Prince is not the kind of character you are supposed to warm up to. hehe

    And I thought Meghan adjusted really well under the circumstances, too. I saw her as very brave. She never gave up on her brother and endured a lot to get to him.

    Grim is Boss!

  13. Sigh ... still haven't started this series but I think it gets better and better judging from the reviews I've seen. Oh, and I think you'll start to warm up to Ash as well.

  14. Great honest review, I haven't started this series yet but i have the newest one on my shelf waiting to be read.

    Thanks for stopping by and following my blog, I'm following you now too :)

  15. I didn't like The Iron King as much as I had hoped and I think it's put me in a reading slump. :( I loved the plot as well but didn't really connect to any of the characters. I'm hoping to get out of this slump with The Iron Daughter today as a lazy Sunday.

  16. Wow, SR! I love the way you format your reviews! You are a very clear and thorough writer, too, esp. on this one (sorry it's the geeky word girl in me - I notice stuff like this). Love this review, and I totally get you: I am a character girl, too. Been playing around with making April and May my 'catch up' months to go through all the great books that have been released a while back, but I haven't had the chace to read - this this one just made my list! Thanks so much!

    -Linds, bibliophile brouhaha

  17. Hey I like it! Great review. I love the way you've set it out. I can't wait to start this series :D

  18. I'm the same way. Faeries are, by far, my least favorite paranormal creature. I've avoided these books for that very reason. It's good to know they're game-changers.

  19. I'm not sure I've read a paranormal focused on faeries besides Melissa Marr's series which I hated although not because I consciously avoid them. It's good to know that it doesn't live up to its hype ^.^

    Sniffly Kitty
    Sniffly Kitty's Mostly Books

  20. I'm intrigued that you found the faeries enjoyable in this one because I found that I agree with you and I generally disliked them in the Wicked Lovely series (my first and only foray into books featuring faeries).

    There's tons of hype surrounding this series so it's nice to read your review. I'll lower my expectations a bit for when I do get around to reading this series.

  21. I keep resisting starting this series, because I'm worried it will disappoint me. Still, like you, I'm a big quest fan, so one of these days I'll have to bite the bullet.

  22. You have expressed the EXACT same thoughts I felt! I rated it the same way, and I've got to say, that cat is just an awesome character.

    I really enjoy your reviews. You have a sense of humor while maintaining a very unique language pattern. (I don't think that made any sense. In laymen's terms, I love your writing style.) I look forward to reading more! (:


  23. Brianna, Thank you so much! What a sweet comment :)


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