The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

the iron kingReading level: 4.7
Lexile: 740
Series: The Iron Fey #1
Genre: fantasy, fairytale
ELL-Friendly: No
Library recommendation: High school

Goodreads summary:

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.

The good: The cover is so pretty!

Aaaaand that’s about it.

Loads of people really liked The Iron King, and I can understand why. It’s got fairies, adventure, romance, and magic. I like all of those things, too, so I had high hopes when I blindly picked it up as part of my jump into a goodreads discussion group.

The premise of going to a mystical land to rescue a younger brother isn’t anything new. I was actually hoping David Bowie would make an appearance at the end, but alas…

I was really disappointed in the main character Meghan. She’s another Bella Swan, unable to take care of herself, although she does a great job of getting out of the way so that the men can do the fighting for her. Granted, she has her moment of glory and bravery at the end, but her inability to do anything for the first 99% of the book was incredibly irritating.

The absolute worst part is Ash, prince of whatever. Puck, the other lead male character, is a pretty hilarious guy, whom I quite enjoyed. He is so genuine and not disgustingly romantic although we get the impression that he has a thing for Meghan. Ash, on the other hand… What does he even see in  Meghan? Probably not much because there are no redeeming qualities except for her determination to find her brother. But I guess determination is something. But here’s the thing: Ash made it clear that he would kill Meghan if he got the chance or needed to. Meghan stated multiple times that she was being used by him. Yet they fell for each other. Sounds like an abusive Bella and Edward relationship.

The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, but I just can’t keep going on with the series. There is hope that Meghan becomes less useless since she did kick a certain Iron King’s butt (sorry for the spoiler), so one never knows…

I appreciated the gesture towards environmentalism. I thought it was kind of hilarious, though, how all of a sudden all innovation, science, logic, and technology is apparently evil. An abundance of waste from technology is bad, sure. But innovation and science and logic are not bad things in and of themselves.

Like I said, the setting and adventure aspect is interesting, which means kiddos will probably like this book. I just couldn’t get past Meghan’s character, in case you couldn’t tell.

Anyway, although the book has a low reading level, it’s probably not very good for ELLs because of vocabulary such as gremlin, fey, maw, dryad, etc. Some of the content, lots of swearing and a mention or two of sex, makes The Iron King inappropriate for middle schoolers, although older middle schoolers might enjoy it. But you can bet this book will not be in my classroom library.


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