Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Book review: Ice

Ice
A young girl discovers that love really can make you walk to the ends of the earth for that special someone.

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst (Simon and Schuster)
As an ardent lover of all things mythical and fantastical, I think it pretty much goes without saying that I am a huge fan of fairytales as well as modern adaptations and retellings of these much loved tales.

I have to admit though, that when I picked up Ice, it initially didn't register that this was a modern retelling of the Scandinavian fairytale, East of the Sun and West of the Moon (even though the synopsis in itself was a pretty obvious giveaway).

I think the reason for missing out on this obvious point was the fact that I was so much more interested in the fantastical element and the fact that the love interest was something other than a vampire, fallen angel, pixie and fairy, that the familiarity with the storyline only became a little more obvious later on.

To give you a brief overview what the book is about:
Cassie used to revel in the stories about the snow, the beautiful castle made of ice and about her mother who made a deal with the Polar Bear King. But now, older and budding young scientist that she is, Cassie doesn't have much time to believe in those fantastical stories her grandmother use to tell her.

Of course, the very notion of science all but flies out of the window when she comes face to face with a Polar Bear whose actions make him seem far more human than any Polar Bear she's ever come across. 
When she discovers that her mother might still be alive, she quickly makes a deal with him, in the process embarking on a journey to try and save the mother she's always wanted to know.

Along the way, she discovers that love has its own path to travel and that the true meaning of family isn't what she always thought it was and would be.

I desperately wanted to like this book.

Honestly, even halfway through, when I all but wanted to give up on this book; I forced myself to continue reading because I was that desperate to see if I could still find some way to like this book. The fact that this book has also received such great reviews also seriously had me doubting my opinion of this book - but at the end of the day, this book really just didn't do it for me.

Here's what I thought was wrong with this book:

Firstly, even though the narrative is beautifully descriptive and compelling  to some extent, I found that the story was too fast-paced. I generally love a good story where the build-up to action almost starts immediately, but the way in which the action was executed seemed a little forced and clumsy. 

I also found it hard to suspend my disbelief because Cassie's relationship with the Polar Bear king progresses from distrust and suspicion to friendship and love too quickly and too easily (And by quick, I mean that the author structures her sentences in such a way that she'll simply use one paragraph to skip through a couple of weeks and before you know it, the bear and the human girl are in love).

My next problem is, (and this is a little spoilery) is that the Polar Bear remains a Polar Bear throughout most of the novel.  There is a reason for this, but I still think that he could have had a lot more "human" time.  There is also another element that I found the book could have done without, but I will refrain from mentioning anything else as it will give the plot away.

The characters themselves weren't that bad - in fact, they were likeable enough, if somewhat underdeveloped and lacking in believability - but I have to admit that the unwanted element to the story made me like Cassie's character a just a little less.

Considering the fact that the writing is quite lyrical, I think this story could have been really good had the abovementioned issues been addressed.

Read this at your own risk

My overall rating: 2.5/5 stars

1 comments:

-k said...

This is my favourite fairy tale to be re-told (hello, The Polar Bear King movie from the '90s? Such a good movie) and I've been wanting to read this, but your review suggests that this may be more of a library book...
Great review though.