October 28, 2011
Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
Cassie has had an unusual life. Growing up on a research station in the arctic, her only companions were those that worked there and her father and grandmother. From a young age, her grandmother had told her a story of how her mom, having been promised as a wife to the polar bear king, instead ended up the prisoner of trolls. As Cassie grows, she concludes this was just her grandmother's way of softening the story of her mothers death. But on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie learns differently when the Polar Bear King comes to claim her as his bride instead. She makes a deal that if he will release her mother, she will become his life, and is whisked away to his icy castle (which she finds strangely beautiful). She likes the polar bear king, but just as they are growing closer, another bargain of his goes South and he becomes the prisoner of the trolls. Cassie knows she must find a way to rescue him.
Cassie was about the only character I could really like in this book. She was headstrong and courageous and wanted to follow her own dreams, although she was willing to compromise. I think that makes a decent sort of person. What I had a problem with were the rest of the characters. Her parents were weak and I was very unsympathetic to them. Other side characters only seemed to make problems.
But my biggest problem with the characters would have to be the Polar Bear King. Sure on the outside and superficially he seemed to be a pretty cool guy. Handsome, smart, interested in doing what was right for the world, what could be so wrong you say? Well, this is a young adult novel, and as such, most young adults tend to fall for the romantic and I can just picture young girls falling in love with this guy and thinking that the way he treats Cassie is perfect. When we look past his splendor though, what we get is a guy who wheedles her into doing things she doesn't want, leaves her along for long portions of time because of his devotion to his work (no matter how noble that's not healthy) and the biggest of all, sets about to "fix" her without any input or permission from her and claims it was because he loved her. Let's just say that what he did would be the equivalent to a guy hiding someone's birth control. I just have a lot of problems with him being the hero in the book because of that.
So now that I've ended my rant on the characters, I do have to say that I enjoyed the plot of the book. Although I haven't read the fairytale its based on I find this story concept enchanting and being set in the polar region its different from most fairy tales I've encountered. There are a few parts that get choppy and bounce around without making sense, but the majority of the book flows smoothly and has a great deal of unique fantasy aspects in it. There is some cussing in the book, but it was mainly mild, but I can see some of the themes being a bit too dark for someone who enjoys happy fairy tales.
An interesting book, despite my disgust with the one character I do sheepishly admit that I enjoyed reading it. I would only caution that if you're giving it to a teenage daughter to read, explain that the relationship is not a good one.