Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Review: Julie Kagawa, Iron Daughter (Iron Fey, #2)

Publisher: Harlequin
Pub date: August 1, 2010
Page count: 304 pages
Reading level: Young Adult


Sigh. I really wanted to love this book as much as I loved Iron King...I really hoped the things that bothered me in Iron King would sort of fade into the background in this second installment of the Iron Fey trilogy. But unfortunately the reverse happened.

My main issue is with the heroine, Meghan Chase. I didn't love her in Iron King, but the jury was still out. After finishing Iron Daughter, I'm afraid I've pretty much lost hope. For one thing, the damsel in distress situation that was a bit of an aggravation in Iron King only escalates in Iron Daughter. In the rare instance that Meghan actually manages to hold her own in a fight, it's not really due to hard work and determination (i.e. strength of character), but rather the sheer luck of spontaneously to be able to use iron glamour (a very intriguing, unusual, and useful skill which Meghan seems, for the most part, far less interested in investigating than she is in pining away for the various dudes in her life...harrumph).

Though she can generally be relied upon for the damsel in distress scenes, Meghan is for the most part not a consistent character; her choices and actions are often not what we would expect given the way her character was developed in the previous book. Her concern for her brother, which was the driving force of Iron King, is now put on the back burner, though his safety is far from secure. I really hate inconsistent characters (unless the tendency towards inconsistency is actually part of the character) and so this was a serious stumbling block.

*Spoilers below (vague ones)*

Equally grating was Meghan's endless angst over the whole Ash thing.  When Ash spurns her, she's all "woe is me, I have nothing to live for now; I wish I were dead." When Ash predictably changes his mind a few pages later, she leaps back into his arms after a few moments of distress (BUT WHAT IF HE'S JUST GLAMOURING ME AND IT'S NOT REAL AHHHH OH WELL I DON'T CARE I HEART HIM 2 MUCH!!). Then Ash has to go away again, and Puck steals a kiss, and suddenly she's feeling something for Puck? Wondering if she loves Puck?

Which brings me to another issue: the love triangle.  Now, I am not anti-love triangles. Though love triangles are generally frustrating, they can also be brilliant ways of making the reader more invested in the romance. (Hello, Adrian vs. Dimitri.) The love triangle between Meghan, Ash, and Puck, however, left me bored and confused, though I initially had high hopes for it. It was just poorly executed. I honestly thought Puck was glamouring Meghan into feeling something for him. That seemed the only logical explanation for why she would possibly tolerate a steamy make out session with him, just days after she was willing to die to save the supposed love of her life, Ash--and especially given she never showed any attraction to Puck previously. I guess it's possible that Puck was using glamour and we just have to wait until Iron Queen comes out to find out about it...but I don't think so. The whole thing reeked of Bella/Edward/Jacob.

The love triangle fails (for me) because -- while it's obvious that Ash is The One -- there is not sufficient chemistry between them to make me really care too much about their fate as a couple. I was quite puzzled really by Ash's description of his feelings for Meghan during the Winter Fest:

I've seen thousands of mortal girls...To me, they're all the same. They see only this outer shell, not who I really am, beneath. You have. You've seen me without the glamour and the illusions, even the ones I show my family, the farce I maintain just to survive. You've seen who I really am, and yet you remain.

Has she? Did I skip over that section? Because the Ash I've seen is pretty one dimensional...a brooding winter prince who seems to soften up for inexplicable reasons the moment our favorite pig-farm girl arrives on the scene. Precisely why these two share such a strong connection, however,  remains a mystery, because both characters are underdeveloped, and they fall in love too quickly for us to keep up with.

And is it really such a shock that Meghan would stick around after seeing Ash's self-described "real" self? The glamoured version of Ash that his family sees is, frankly, a monster...a cruel, emotionless, killing machine. As for the "real" Ash: we can sort of make him out in an abstract way...he obviously cares deeply for Meghan and is willing to fight anyone who tries to harm her (assuming his mind hasn't been possessed by iron bugs). Horrors! To imagine she would still want to be with him after seeing that "real" side of him!

Anyway, enough complaining. Despite these issues, the book was fast paced and exciting, such that I read most of it in one sitting. The secondary characters were, again, fabulous. Grimalkin was a grumpy delight, Ironhorse TUGGED AT MY HEART, and Puck, when he wasn't wallowing, was entertaining too. The entire breed of iron fey are fascinating and I really hope that drama will be the focus of the final installment of this trilogy. Kagawa's writing (aside from Meghan's endless weepy monologues about her broken heart) is top notch.

Yes, I will be reading the next and final book. Despite my issues, I still definitely need to know how this all works out in the end.


  1. Spot on review! Several times in the book, I just stopped reading. I had to walk away. Meghan was not a likeable character for me and most of the time drove me crazy (Along with Ash). I was complaining about the book and was asked 'why do you keep reading it then?' .....I guess it was because I had to know how it ended. Silly, huh? Clearly I agree it was because the other characters of the book who really carried it. As far as romance in the novel, there was close to none. Ash never did anything amazing, sweep you off your feet romantic for me. Puck was her protector who fell in love with her because of who she was. And he protected her and cared for her all the while in the mortal world and then into the faery land. He 'grew up' with her and saw her through many aspects of her life. And yet still loved her, Why? We don't know. Ash to me was just a handsome face, another Scott Waldron, the QB of her high school. Why in the world would she choose Ash? Truly love was blind in this book.

  2. i know. it's ridiculous and so disappointing. authors need to realize that just because a swooning female mentions in every other paragraph that she can feel her lover's heartbeat, or that her skin is on fire whenever he's near, etc., it doesn't mean that chemistry has been created.

    maybe if i had never read YA authors like richelle mead who ARE so talented at creating chemistry i'd be less harsh. but i know it can be done and anything that falls short irritates me to no end...especially books like kagawa's which are so great in so many other ways! i really wanted to love iron daughter but i just couldn't get past this.