Ice by Sarah Beth Durst (3 stars)
Kel Thursday, April 09, 2015 review
Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling
Published on October 6, 2009
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Final Rating: 3 stars
When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.
Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back — if Cassie will agree to be his bride.
That is the beginning of Cassie's own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her — until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice.
Let's face it: I picked this up because I love the cover art. :)
Cassie is a generally likable protagonist who grew up at a research station on the ice with a less than standard upbringing. Her mother is dead, her father is emotionally distant, and she dreams of one day heading her own station, tracking and studying polar bears. She's resourceful, capable and prides herself on her rational, logical mind. Which makes it fun to see Bear toss logic out the window.
The romance is..."interesting." Despite being technically married (to a polar bear), after setting some boundaries (cue ax scene), Cassie and Bear develop a relationship that is, for the most part, slow and sweet, nothing graphic or too rushed. (But yes, she's still married to a magical bear. I recommend not thinking too hard about it.)
The author has really intriguing reasoning and world building for why Bear is the way he is and why he makes the marriage deal, continues to pursue it, etc. The munaqsri idea is pretty cool, and its effect on Cassie's big journey makes sense. However, the scenes with Cassie and Bear together have better pacing/transitions and are more enjoyable than those with Cassie alone. There's one particular slow spot I disliked for several reasons.
I was a little disappointed how simple the end turned out to be and how instantly it ended after the climax. It was like, big moment! End scene/book. I wanted some sort of wind down. (Side complaint: I understand its purpose, but I could have done without the pregnancy.)
Despite my displeasure with certain portions of the plot and the abrupt ending, I enjoyed Ice. It's an interesting, different take on an old fairy tale, and I like the writing. I'd be glad to see more fairy tale retellings from Durst, though preferably without the pregnancy. ;)