Title: Iced (Dani O'Malley, #1; Fever, #6)
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Rating: 2 Stars
Iced is a shockingly disappointing installment from Karen Marie Moning. Honestly, I can't believe this is the same author who wrote the first five books of the Fever Series, charming readers with her impeccable plotting and honest narration. While there are a plethora of issues with Iced, many of which have been discussed at length by earlier readers, the crux of my problem with this novel is not Dani or her narration; it's the flimsy plot, the unnecessary glimpses into the minds of characters who offer nothing to the tale, and the cheap tactics by which Moning distinguishes the "good" guys from the "bad" ones.
Although Iced could have easily been set a few years after the end of Shadowfever, mostly to give us a narrator who isn't fourteen-years-old, this novel takes places shortly after the events of the first five Fever books. Dani, now estranged from Mac, is captured and blackmailed brutally by Ryodan who forces her to help him discover how--and why--parts of Dublin are slowly being iced over. If it wasn't bad enough that Dani is being bullied by Ryodan, she has to contend with Christian, whose transformation into an Unseelie Prince seems to be tampering with his sanity, all while trying to enjoy her childhood with the people she actually wants like Dancer, a genius kid who is one of Dani's only true friends.
While Dani's narration can take some time to get used to, I have to admit that I actually like her. Seriously, I have nothing but respect for Dani. She's young, talented, and thrown into a world where she's the smallest fish--not to mention the fact that Mac, who was like an older sister to her, has now abandoned her. Dani may be reckless and naive, but she does the best she can in the circumstances she's thrown in. Moreover, she keeps a clear mind and unlike other characters in the novel (*ahem*, Jo!) she is able to see Ryodan and Christian for what they are. Ryodan, for all the swooning readers do over him, is, plain and simple, a bully. He secures Dani's cooperation by blackmailing her and hiring Jo as a result of that transaction and, for that, Dani detests him. She does her best to maintain her freedom and sense of independence and, in doing so, often violates Ryodan's many rules which allow him to keep an eye on her. Yet, despite the fact that Dani tells everyone who will listen that Ryodan is bad news, out of everyone else in this book, he's possibly the adult that treats her best. Which, honestly, is despicable. Ryodan is likable simply because in comparison to Christian, who is a full-fledged pedophile, he is a saint. Ryodan doesn't sexualize Dani and though he is possessive of her, he never crosses the lines that Christian does.
Speaking of Christian, I feel genuinely sorry to see him have sunk this low. Back in the day, Christian was hot. I mean, we all swooned over this guy. Now? Ick, you can't get me out of Christian's head any faster! Moning includes one too many chapters from Christian's perspective and it's beyond disturbing. Not only is Christian obsessed with Dani, thinking about her constantly and trying to convince her that someday they will be together, but even the actions he completes that have nothing to do with Dani are disturbing. I just feel sad that Moning felt compelled to mold him into a sick, genuinely reviling character. Thus, in comparison to Christian, I can completely see why readers are falling head-over-heels for Ryodan. I'd prefer anyone to Christian. Yet, that doesn't negate the fact that Ryodan isn't exactly Mr. Nice Guy and though I suspect I might grow to like him more as the series progresses--after all, that was the case with Barrons, too--I'm not holding my breath.
Characters aside, Iced is a novel composed of filler pages. Not much happens in such a hefty volume and the fact that Ryodan requires Dani's help is a flimsy excuse for a plot to be built upon. It isn't until the last hundred, or so, pages that the plot finally picks up and Iced ends with a bang. Hopefully, this means that Burned will be far more entertaining and far less cringe-worthy. At any rate, I'm hoping that a healthy dose of Mac and Barrons can reclaim the magic of the Fever Series. While Moning's novels often deal with brutal, horrific themes at least they've had an adult protagonist cope with those situations. Dani, at fourteen, is just too young a character and to expect her to be on par with Mac, physically and particularly emotionally, isn't fair. What's more, I found that Mac's story is an emotionally compelling one: her sister has been murdered and Mac wants revenge. With Iced, the motivations feel cheap and lack depth. Dani's backstory certainly pulls heartstrings but her past has little to do with her present.
I knew, from the mixed reviews--many of them unhappy ones--that Iced wasn't going to be a favorite of mine. I just hoped, foolishly perhaps, that knowing what to expect would make the experience of reading this far more tolerable. I guess...not. Iced is slow, torturous, and not what I would expect after a five fast-paced, action-filled novels with revelations and plot twists around every corner. Needless to say, if Moning plans to keep fans reading this spin-off, Burned will need to be a really good read.
Update: Burned is good! You can read my mini-review of it HERE.