I've been thinking a lot lately about the blog and what kinds of posts I can integrate into my standard reviews and interviews to keep things interesting and fun, and when participating in Super Six Sunday last week an idea came to me. It was a prompt about authors we'd like to meet, and given Karen Marie Moning is at the top of my list I rambled on a bit about how much I love her (there are also pictures of a strikingly beautiful and half-naked Stuart Reardon, aka Ryodan), which in turn sparked a renewed interest in Iced.
I thought of more things I'd like to say about Iced that didn't make it into my review. Things about Dani. And Ryodan. And Dani and Ryodan together. The desire to talk about, question, theorize and otherwise fangirl all over this book led me to this post (and maybe feature, we'll see how it goes). We all have a book or a series we're madly in love with, right? One that when we see it on someone's to-be-read pile or catch wind of a Twitter conversation wherein people are considering starting it we respond with encouragement that includes an excessive use of all caps and exclamation points (and likely animated hand gestures and squealing as well). One we try and force on friends and family even if they're completely uninterested in reading it because it's quite frankly irrelevant whether or not they WANT to, they simply MUST read it. They're all "I'm not sure this is the book for me" and we're all "IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOU SAY RIGHT NOW, STOP WASTING TIME DENYING THE INEVITABLE AND READ." We suddenly turn into a stern parent to their irritated youth, replying with only "because I said so" when they ask why they're being
The Fever series in general is one of those series for me, but Iced in particular is a standout in the middle of a spectacular series. What I like most about it is the fact that it inspires conversation. This is not a book you read and then can't think of anything to say about it afterwards. Oh no. When you reach the end you only have nothing to say because there's so much to say you don't even know where to start. You may have good things to say. You may not. But you'll want to to talk to someone about this book, and that's, for me, what makes it so fun.
So, this post is going to be me highlighting for you what I loved so much about Iced, and what worked so well for me when parts of this story didn't work at all for many a reader, and my hope is at the end of it you'll leave a comment agreeing or disagreeing with my take or, if you haven't read it, adding it to your list just because I've made you curious.
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I think perhaps the most controversial aspect and the main cause of the love/hate divide between readers of this book is the young age of its protagonist. Dani is 14, but this is in no way, shape or form a young adult novel. Below are the reasons Dani's young age and the presence of two very sexual, very alpha men and one soon-to-be alpha man in her life wasn't as uncomfortable for me as it was for some.
1. Dani's world is not our world. Sure, Iced is contemporary in terms of time, set in the here and now rather than being historical or futuristic, but this world is not governed by the rules and regulations of our reality and even if it was, the supernatural inhabitants of Dublin would disregard them, bend them, break them, and otherwise do as they please. Ryodan and company exist outside the confines of laws and morality as we know them today, therefore trying to make them fit into what our current society deems as acceptable or appropriate is going to end in nothing but frustration.
2. Dani both is and is not 14. Technically she's been alive for 14 years, but hers was not a protected, comfortable childhood where she was granted the time to simply be happy and healthy and young. She's been fighting monsters, human and otherwise, her entire life, seeing and experiencing the type of darkness that irrevocably changes and alters, ultimately forcing her to shed the skin of a child and adopt the armor of an adult. There's still an unquestionable innocence about her though, making her a rather beautiful blend of youth and experience.
3. This is not a romance. Yes, there are three men that feature very prominently in Dani's life, but aside from a bit of innuendo here and there from some of Ryodan's men, there is absolutely nothing, in my opinion, inappropriate about Ryodan or Dancer's behavior with regard to Dani. Christian is a bit of another story, but he's, and I say this with complete and utter fondness, batshit crazy. He's absolutely hilarious, appalling, and terrifying at the same time, so he gets a bit of a pass for his stray thought or two because he's going through a rather spectacular transition from human to death-by-sex fae. (KMM addresses this issue particularly well on her Facebook page)
4. Ryodan. Team Ryodan for the win. Now many of you are going to read this and go "Um, Jenny? How can you be ANY team when the girl is 14? That's beyond inappropriate." Yes, wanting Ryodan for Dani as she is in Iced is inappropriate, but I want Ryodan for Dani down the line. For me, he's her endgame just as Barrons was for Mac, but as I said before, there's absolutely nothing romantic between them in this first (or 6th depending on how you look at it) book. Ryodan does claim Dani as his own from the beginning, not in a sexual way though, but rather as a tool; something he needs to achieve the goals he's set for himself and he's absolutely nothing if not ambitious and opportunistic. She's valuable–a petite source of strength in a world where strength is the only remaining form of currency–and Ryodan keeps valuable things close to him.
5. Ryodan is not pining for Dani. He would never pine. Pine isn't even in his vocabulary. He's not patiently embracing celibacy and waiting for her to mature so he can seduce her as soon as she comes of age. That would be creepy. Instead, it's made very clear to us just how much Ryodan is NOT waiting for Dani in any romantic way, but what does exist between them is the promise of what could be in the future. We can see in Dani the type of woman she will become, and we already know the type of man Ryodan is, so the appeal for me in a Ryodan/Dani pairing is not rooted in the present with Iced, but in what Karen has in store for us in Burned and Flayed.
So, what do you guys think? Agree/disagree? Rooting for Dancer instead of Ryodan? Simply can't get past Dani's age? I'd love to know what you think in the comments! And if you haven't read Iced, I'd love to know what book or series you feel as though you can never say too much about.
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There have been some recent changes with regard to the next book in the series, Burned, so I wanted to end this post with some of the information I've found whilst trolling the internet for any crumbs to help tide me over until it's finally in my hands. I discovered a post on KMM's Facebook page a few days ago with some delicious tidbits, and then yesterday–thanks to Mandi at Smexy Books– I found a link to fantastic recap of a recent KMM Q+A courtesy of A Bitch, A Blog and A Bookshelf, which you can read in its entirety here. I've listed highlights from both Q+A finds below.
• The release date for Burned has been moved back from January 2014 to April 2014. When asked why, Karen had this to say:
"I won’t put a book out until I’m satisfied I’ve written it the best way possible. I’m currently exploring two different ways of continuing the series. Previously I told you there would be three books (ICED, BURNED and FLAYED) in the Dani series followed by two Mac & Barrons books. I may be combining the next four books (BURNED, FLAYED and the untitled M&B books) into two."
• One of the most pressing questions for readers (myself included) is if Dani is going to be older in the next book. The answers in both Q+A sessions allude to Dani being 17 in Burned, though not right away.
• There's been a lot of speculation and suggestion that Ryodan might be Dani's father given the similarities in their abilities. Personally, this squicks me out since I'm rooting for Ryodan in a romantic capacity and discovering he's her father would likely scar me for life. Luckily, Karen's response to the "is Ryodan Dani's father" question was an emphatic no. A no so emphatic in fact it was repeated two additional times.
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• Jo and Ryodan's relationship is another hot-button topic for readers (mostly those readers like me who are hoping for a Dani/Ryodan romance in the future to rival that of Mac and Barrons). When asked about it, Karen said this:
"Can I please not be nailed to stand-alone romance novel clichés from the 90’s? (Which I love to read by the way.) Really, is Ryodan the kind of…whatever he is….that would in any way be governed by them? And Jo—who among you wouldn’t walk up those stairs if you got his nod? She’s completely frank about knowing that she’s never going to keep him. She’s making a memory.
Transformation is what I find fascinating and emotionally stirring about life. It’s what we become, how we become it, what happens when we think we’ve got nothing left inside us then stumble across some inner beast we didn’t even know was crouching in there that can rise to any occasion. No, Jo isn’t in Ryodan’s league and maybe Ryodan is currently being a jackass. Those are starting points. Just like Darkfever was a starting point. I haven’t forgotten that many people demanded I stop writing that new “horrible” series immediately, because they hated Mac and thought JZB was old and unattractive.
I’m glad I didn’t listen. I hope you are, too."