Iced by Karen Marie Moning
Series: Fever (#6)
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.
This review contains spoilers not only for the previous 5 books in the series, but for Iced as well. In fact, I’ve summed up the entire book in this review, so don’t read any further if you don’t want to be spoiled.
23 December 2014 update:
Because I said I could sum up everything important that happens in the book in a few short sentences (and did in a comment below), I figured I’d add it to my review. Serious spoilers below for the entirety of the book:
1. Christian is turning into a UP – with all the perverted thoughts and actions that one would expect to come with it.
2. Cruce is fucking with the sidhe-seers’ minds and dreams. Trying to get them all to help him, to the exclusion of others – separating them by making them think they’re the only ones.
3. Mac and Barrons have been busy elsewhere – no we don’t know doing what.
4. There’s a new group in town putting up fliers and trying to take over. They’re also disparaging Dani. Lainey’s apparently helping them.
5. There’s a food shortage – not surprising, but it seems that someone is gathering up all the food (possibly Ryodan? He’s definitely been gathering the weapons).
6. We meet Dancer – who is, apparently, human; very smart, kind, and good to Dani – supporting her when she needs it, and letting her do what she needs when she needs to.
7. Dani and Christian go into the UK’s mansion and accidentally release the Crimson Hag (she likes to flay the flesh from her victims, over and over and over again).
8. In the final battle everyone works together (sidhe-seers, the Nine (minus Barrons and Mac – who are apparently too busy elsewhere to worry about this fucking fae that’s freezing the entire fucking country), Dani, Christian, Dancer, etc) to defeat the ice-monster). This is probably the only scene I actually thought was fairly well done in the book.
9. Christian sacrifices himself to save the others to the Crimson Hag. When the book ends he’s in her keeping.
10. Cliffhanger ending: Mac corners Dani, holding the spear to her back, telling her to ‘drop the fucking sword.’ – And here’s the entire bit of scene (in all it’s manipulative and contradictory to Shadowfever glory – though I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt and say that Mac simply wants to get Dani to stop and talk to her):
I ease back down into slow-mo to skirt a mound of ice-crusted snow. I’m standing there, starting to get all broody again thinking about all the ghosts I see in these streets sometimes, when I feel the tip of something sharp and pointy in my back.
“Drop your sword, Dani,” Mac says, real soft-like behind me.
“Yeah, right. Like I’m actually falling for this.” I snicker. Me and my overactive imagination. Like Mac would actually be able to sneak up behind me without my superhearing tipping me off. Like she would ever walk around at night with no MacHalo on. I got mine on and I know exactly how bright it is. If she was standing behind me, we’d be making double the light I’m throwing.
Or try to.
Nothing happens. Just like those two times with Ryodan when all the sudden I just didn’t have any juice. No gas in the tank, no engine in the train.
I squeeze my eyes shut hard and try again.
Still standing there.
Still feeling the tip of a spear in my back.
“I said ‘drop your fucking sword,'” Mac says.
24 September 2014 update (Cover rant):
Yep, that makes it clear it’s not about the sex, doesn’t it? This new cover totally says that the story is ALL about Dani, right? Doesn’t it? I need to unfollow her on facebook before I get really irritated.
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.
1. Ryodan. I liked Ryodan in the Fever books. I thought he was intriguing, a contrast – more civilized and fuck-with-your-mind version of Barrons perhaps (Barrons is, as Mac puts it, with one foot in the swamp). He had a lot of potential and I was interested to read more about him. I *never* wanted him to have a relationship with Dani, at least not until she was older, and this was a concern when I first started hearing about this book.
Turns out I was right to be worried. Ryodan constantly sexualized Dani. Their interactions were constantly threaded with innuendo (that, incidentally, went over Dani’s head), and he kept intimating that he was waiting for her to grow up. These moments were portrayed in a positive light, there’s no getting around how KMM showed that the innuendo was fun, light, sexy. It’s more than obvious that Ryodan wants Dani – maybe not today, but he’s got plans and he’s acting on them, trying to secure that future, now…despite the fact that she’s fourteen.
Add to that the fact that he kept trying to make her dependent on him, and I was nothing but squicked out. The grossness of this relationship was really disturbing.
There’s also a huge power imbalance that I’m not even going to get into, because it’s pretty easy to imagine. But the fact that Ryodan uses this against Dani infuriates me.
Some really specific examples:
At one point in the book you Ryodan keeping Dani chained up for THREE days. Remember this is Dani, the person that needs to eat all the time (literally) because her metabolism is out of control. Three days with NO FOOD AND NO WATER!! Are you kidding me? She could have died. Honestly, with her metabolism she should have.
Later, I believe it’s after Ryodan “dies” and when Dani sees him again he then SLAMS her up against a pillar, bruising her face so badly that she nearly can’t see out of it afterwards. He pins her to the pillar and proceeds to breaks her finger. O__O
I can’t even…What.the.fuck.
HE BROKE HER FINGERS.
What’s Dani do? Cries with relief that he’s alive. He’s humiliating her. Hurting her. And she’s happy he’s alive.
Doesn’t that sound like abusive dependence to anyone else?
Add to that the fact that Ryodan is either (a) incompetent or (b) someone that’s determined to keep Dani in his sphere of influence from now until he can have her. In case (a) he’s just worthless – no where near the level of Barrons. In case (b) c’mon, that’s just skeevy. She’s young, impressionable, able to be molded, and you’re going to prey on her now so that you have first shot at her when she’s “matured”? Fuck you.
I keep hearing about how Ryodan’s supposed to be more epic* than Barrons, but I honestly can’t see that happening.
Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s get this argument out of the way. I keep hearing about how Barrons was the same with Mac. I strongly disagree. Barrons was an ass, I’ll agree with anyone there, but (except for the time when he went to her hotel room that first time) he never put a mark on her. He protected her, saved her life multiple times, taught her, showed her how to survive in this new world, gave her information, GAVE HER A WEAPON – The SPEAR (I’m going to come back to this). He was always about making Mac strong enough to take him on. He wanted her able to handle him, not be dependent or subservient to him. Did he use her? Sure. Did Barrons withhold information from her? Yep. Did he act like an ass? Absolutely. But he didn’t hurt her, he didn’t make it harder for her to protect herself, and he didn’t make her less. He helped her build herself up. There’s no comparison in my opinion.
The weapon. Barrons gave Mac the Spear. Made sure she was able to protect herself, defend herself. No matter what. We all know that Dani had the sword.
There was ALWAYS the choice with Mac/Barrons. No matter what he wanted more than anything, Mac could have walked away and done it her own way. Barrons just, bluntly, told her that no one would be able to help her/save her/protect her/teach her like he would. And that’s what he proceeded to do. Ryodan on the other hand chained Dani up for 3 days without food or water or bathrooms. He slammed her into a pillar, repeatedly, breaking her face. He belittles her.
2. What the hell happened to all the strong female characters? The Fever series was peopled with them. Kat, Jo, Dani, Mac…Kat became weak – unable to make a decision, no matter how much it’d help her sidhe-seers. Jo became a sex object that had no brain. In the Fever series people would say “maybe Jo knows,” and here she didn’t know what kinetic energy was. She was a sex toy for Ryodan. Blegh. Dani at least remained pretty awesome. Mac was absent for the most part. And every.single.other.female was nothing more than a sex object, a damsel in distress, or window-dressing. No brains, fighting to die for the Unseelie in Chester’s, with not a thought between anyone of them that was portrayed.
3. On top of Ryodan’s oogling of Dani, you have Christian. His scenes were at least portrayed in a negative light. He was sickened with himself, with the changes happening to him. But on top of the Ryodan stuff it was just too much. Noticing her skull and cross-bone underwear, her “sweet, young curves” nearly made me sick. But I was sick for Christian. He didn’t ask for this transformation. He’s fighting it; he’s often losing that battle, but he’s trying. And he always is disgusted with himself later. The ending, and his actions, leave me hopeful that the Christian I know and love is still in there somewhere.
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 (ETA: I did have a link to this Q&A, but KMM went on a purge and got rid of everything – you’ll just have to trust me that I copied her words here.)
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 (ETA: removed dead link – like I said, KMM purged and deleted A LOT) 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 got to 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.
1.5 Stars. I’ll be (incredibly) generous and round up.
Edit: I changed my mind. This doesn’t deserve 2 stars. In fact I’m not sure it deserves 1 star.
I don’t know what to say, I don’t know how to review this, I don’t even really know what to rate this. I’m leaning towards 2.5 stars right now
I’m just… *sigh*
This was seriously a let-down. Some good parts, some parts that make me curious/think, but overall – a lot kind of left me feeling gross or angry, and the rest bored me to tears.