Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK, Margaret K. McElderry.
Where did you get this book: Review Copy from Simon and Schuster.
Release Date UK/US: Out now.
This review contains some spoilers.
Blurb taken from author’s official website:
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.
Ice is a very unique YA fantasy romance based upon the the Norwegian fairytale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon.
Cassie is a very headstrong heroine who has grown up on an Alaska Arctic research station all of her life, brought up by her Father who is a research scientist. Cassie’s whole life has revolved around the ice caps, and one day, while tracking a polar bear, she sees the most peculiar thing: the polar bear runs away at a terrifying speed and disappears into the ice… literally. Cassie, undeniably shocked, doesn’t realise how special this polar bear is, and most importantly who he is. When Cassie explains to her father about the polar bear disappearing into the Ice, he suddenly, and urgently, decides to send her away to live with her Grandmother in Fairbanks, and doesn’t give her a choice in the matter. Cassie is bewildered, hurt and angry. In a nutshell, she refuses to be sent away.
When her Grandmother arrives to take her away, Cassie gets the shock of her life when her Grandmother tells her that the tale she told her as a child, about the deal her mother made with the Polar Bear King, turns out to be very true. And her life is about to take a monumental change when she goes outside, and demands that the Polar Bear King shows himself, and upholds the original agreement her mother made: For her daughter to be the wife of the Polar Bear King. The Polar Bear King shows himself, and it’s the very same bear that ran away from Cassie. Cassie’s whole world is turned even more upside down, when she learns from Bear that her mother is very much alive, and is the prisoner of the trolls. Cassie agrees to a deal with Bear: Her mother will be returned safe and alive, if Cassie agrees
I liked Cassie in some aspects of her personality; she was fierce, she was unafraid of going after what she wanted, and her emotions on learning about Bear were very realistic at first. When Cassie goes to live with Bear after agreeing to the deal, she remains suspicious, and conspires not to remain with him, but she builds up a slow trust with him – one that you don’t see in scenes unfortunately – and one day, she realises that she doesn’t actually want to leave Bear. Oh, and before you think: OMG, she’s falling in love with a polar bear, Bear is actually a munaqsri, the guardian of souls for the polar bears. He takes a form of a polar bear, but he has a human form also.
While I loved the worldbuilding and the colourful and very imaginative detail in Ice, I found it was lacking in character development and the relationship of Cassie and Bear. Cassie’s character was fleshed out, and her strong personality instantly shone through, but I wished that Bear had the same development. Knowing he’s the love interest wasn’t enough. I wanted to see his emotions, his thoughts and feelings. There was no real depth and personality to him, and I felt he was rather one dimensional.
Cassie’s relationship with Bear gets stronger and stronger as she spends more time with him, but she soon realises that she feels like she’s missing a part of herself. Cassie misses the scientific work she did. Cassie then finds out that one of the main reasons Bear marries her, is to carry on the future of the munaqsri as there are fewer and fewer of them. Bear and Cassie do have a physical relationship, and she understandably feels instant betrayal when Bear does something that will change her life forever without her permission. As I was reading this, I was like: Oh my gosh. I would have done more than what Cassie did, and would have beaten the crap out of him.
While this is a fairytale story that has its unique worldbuilding, I’ve always been a person that’s character oriented, and I like to read about characters that have a dose of pragmatism. And this is where I’m torn with knowing that this is a book where you have to suspend belief, but the characters’ actions bugged me a lot – and I felt that some of Cassie’s decisions and actions were reckless.
When Cassie goes off to save Bear, again the world building and the adventure is wonderful to read about, but the reasons behind it make no sense as Bear could have avoided being taken away simply by telling Cassie the truth.
Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable read, but while reading this book, you have to suspend a lot of belief while doing so.
I give Ice 3.5 out of 5.