Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review: Iced by Karen Marie Moning

Title: Iced
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Series: Dani O'Malley, Book 1 / Fever, Book 6
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 30 October 2012

The year is 1 AWC—After the Wall Crash. The Fae are free and hunting us. It’s a war zone out there, and no two days are alike. I’m Dani O’Malley, the chaos-filled streets of Dublin are my home, and there’s no place I’d rather be.

Dani “Mega” O’Malley plays by her own set of rules—and in a world overrun by Dark Fae, her biggest rule is: Do what it takes to survive. Possessing rare talents and the all-powerful Sword of Light, Dani is more than equipped for the task. In fact, she’s one of the rare humans who can defend themselves against the Unseelie. But now, amid the pandemonium, her greatest gifts have turned into serious liabilities.

Dani’s ex–best friend, MacKayla Lane, wants her dead, the terrifying Unseelie princes have put a price on her head, and Inspector Jayne, the head of the police force, is after her sword and will stop at nothing to get it. What’s more, people are being mysteriously frozen to death all over the city, encased on the spot in sub-zero, icy tableaux.

When Dublin’s most seductive nightclub gets blanketed in hoarfrost, Dani finds herself at the mercy of Ryodan, the club’s ruthless, immortal owner. He needs her quick wit and exceptional skill to figure out what’s freezing Fae and humans dead in their tracks—and Ryodan will do anything to ensure her compliance.

Dodging bullets, fangs, and fists, Dani must strike treacherous bargains and make desperate alliances to save her beloved Dublin—before everything and everyone in it gets iced.

Okay, I finally went through and gathered my thoughts, from when I first read it, and from discussing it throughout the past year+ with friends.

I've put off writing this review, or even rating this book, since I first read it in 2012. You have to understand where I'm coming from, the Fever series was something I spent FIVE long years reading, rereading, speculating, discussing, and waiting for the completion. And it was beautiful, perfect...EPIC. I loved it. Even now that it's finished it remains at the top of my favorites list. The scope and ability that KMM showed in that novel blew my mind.

I had reservations about Dani. I couldn't stand her voice in Dreamfever and Shadowfever. Feck and Dude was every other word, it felt like, and I wasn't looking forward to reading a whole book of it.

Then I opened Iced and was surprised as hell to find out that I didn't hate Dani. I began to get to know her, to understand her, and her voice was so much different than what I'd previously read that I settled in hoping that my fears were mislaid.

Surprisingly, to me, I actually liked Dani. I don't love her yet, but I could see that happening. There are things she did that irritated the hell out of me, but she's an incredible character - tough and bitten, naive and innocent - rolled into one, believably.

Unfortunately, because there's been no change in age or growth from when we knew her in the Fever series I can't help but feel like KMM changed her to suit her purposes. There's no reason that her voice would change this much considering Iced picks up before Shadowfever even ends. So, while I was relieved and happy that I liked Dani, I was also skeptical about the authorial intent...and worried about what other characters would change to suit their new purpose (with good reason it turns out).

The "mystery" (these are supposed to be episodic books, with a "monster of the week" type of storyline) in this book was weak. Honestly pretty boring and I didn't give a crap about it for most of the story. Up until the last 20%, when it had me riveted, and the climax fight scene was fantastic. I loved how they had to work together, and how well they integrated their very different talents.

And now we're going to come to my main problem. The sexualization of a FOURTEEN year old girl by TWO GROWN ASS MEN. I can't really get into it without spoilers, and the rest of my complaints involve spoilers as well, so read on at your own risk.

I did enjoy some smaller aspects of it. There's some food shortage issues that I'm interested in seeing more about. The world itself is interesting as hell, still. But I'm afraid to see the characters I know and love destroyed, turned into lesser versions of themselves. I'm going to read the next one, and hope and pray that KMM gets back on track...but I'll probably wait until Jenny's read it and given me a run-down (that she promised :P)

Here's a Q/A with KMM after Iced was released. I'm going to highlight the parts the infuriate me the most. But be warned again. Spoilers ahead.
Q&A Link

Q. Is Dani older in BURNED?

A1. Crimeny, is it really all about sex?

Q. Yes. Now answer my question.

A2. Although Dani is 14 at the beginning of BURNED, she does mature by the end of the book. Someone asked if she would be 17. I said possibly.

No. We're not worried about the sex. I'm worried about Dani being taken advantage of...when she clearly has no idea what these MEN want with her.

Q. Do you write about pedophiles?

A. No. I write about life. I write with verisimilitude. I write about men who look at a 14-year old superhero woman-child (who is also an assassin—where is the moral outrage over that? Priorities, the UK would say, get some) and can see the women she will become one day. I write about men who will do anything to keep her alive long enough to become it—even knowing they may never be the one lucky enough to get her. I write about men who know that being gentle and making pleasant requests of a young woman who is stronger, faster, smarter and has more balls than pretty much everyone on the planet would be as effective as trying to chisel a sculpture from stone using feathers. Ryodan never lusts over Dani. Dancer never lusts over Dani. Christian has a few very realistic death-by-sex Fae moments but there is no question he is drawn to her “light’and her ‘innocence’ not the skull and crossbone panties he glimpses when she is freezing to death that ‘charms’ him. Not turns him on. Charms him. Do they have hard dicks? The 9 and death-by-sex Fae always have hard dicks. The wind blows.They breathe. It’s that simple. I was 13 when I first noticed a man looking at me like he wanted to have sex with me. How old were you? Although I didn’t act on it for a long time after that, I remember to this day being thrilled by it. Exhilarated. I was becoming a woman. Dani is an odd duck: raised by TV she has seen everything the world has to offer but experienced very little of it. She gets the actions, not the emotions. Yet.

Part of what may have been difficult for any readers who felt disturbed by the way I wrote the characters in ICED is this: I have always given my reader a way in to the men, a heroine through which the reader could connect on a sexual and romantic level to the Alpha males I write. ICED is the first book I’ve written that does not do that. I gave you no mature eyes through which to experience romance (of which there is none yet.) There is no woman in ICED through which you can comfortably lust after my Alphas. Yet. Stay with me. Keep the faith. This made it difficult for some readers who tried to view the Alphas through Dani’s vantage and felt an ‘ick’ factor. Well, stop it! You weren’t supposed to do that anyway, LOL.

Of all the condescending responses I've ever read. OMG. FUCK YOU. I DO NOT READ to lust after the Alpha. I don't put myself in the place of the "heroine" so I can experience her lust for the hero. I have NEVER done that. Don't try to lay the blame for your lust filled innuendos and situations on me.

And fuck you very much for telling me I read the novel wrong.

*And then there's this where KMM says Ryodan will "eclipse Barrons".

One last note about Ryodan: He will eclipse Barrons. Blot him right out of your soul’s sky.

Why's he gotta be more than Barrons? Why can't he just be different? Why do I get the feeling this means that there's a Dani/Ryodan HEA in the works?

I do have some theories/speculations that I could go on about where things would turn and make me happy again, satisfied. But I don't know if I can bear to hope for them to happen. I don't foresee any scenario in which I'm happy with Ryodan and Dani ending up together.

Here are a couple of fantastic reviews that I agree with 100%: bean and Cory and Jenny.

Grade: D-

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