Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fangirling: A Discussion and Update on ICED/BURNED by Karen Marie Moning


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 forced asked to read this book.

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.

• • • • • • • • • •

TEAM RYODAN

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.

• • • • • • • • • •

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.

• • • SPOILER • • •

• 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."

30 comments:

  1. Oh gosh, I had no plans whatsoever to start this one anytime soon but dang it! All your fangirling has me reconsidering that!

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    1. IT'S SO GOOD!!!! Have you read the Fever series? If not, definitely start there as there are MAJOR spoilers in ICED for those books, but you would still understand the story if you started with this one.

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  2. I'm definitely Team Ryodan. I love Dani and think that she and Ryo would make a awesome pair. I'm so looking forward to Burned! I was a bit sad when the release date got pushed back, but as long as we get more Dani and Ryo I'll PATIENTLY wait until April. :D

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    1. YES! *high five for Ryodan* I really liked Dancer too, but I'm Ryodan all the way:) I'm attempting to patiently wait for April, but it's a struggle, I just love him so much.

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  3. Glad you love it :D
    I still wish Dani had been older....I do not know, I just get this feeling

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    1. Did you read it? I definitely wished she was older right up until I read it, and then it just worked for me. I'm THRILLED she's going to be older in the next book, but I liked the way KMM handled everything in this one:)

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  4. Hahaa Jenny! I love how much you absolutely adore this series<3 I had NO IDEA the main character is 14 years old...but she does sound more mature for her age than most 14 year olds! As for books I can never say too much about, I think I'd go with Jodie Picoult's books. Especially "The Pact". But as for FANGIRLING, I'll have to go with The Iron Fey series....every time Ash's name appears, I literally squeal and giggle. hehee

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    1. Yes to Ash Shirley! I totally fangirl over those books as well. Ash is definitely girlish giggle-worthy:)

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  5. I have no idea who Dani and Ryodan are. Well considering that I'm still at the first book I need to move on with that series. But she is 14!! I'm scared of reading this now. Great post Jenny :)

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    1. DON'T BE SCARED TANJA! Trust in KMM, she handles everything well and she will make you love Dani. You'll meet Dani and Ryodan in the Fever series eventually, but they shine in Iced:)

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  6. Just as the first commenter, haha. I had no idea what KMM books hold in themselves and I'm intrigued after all that fangirling of yours. I have heard great things about Mac's love interest and basically everyone's telling me to read this series. I know this is like a spin-off of sorts so I skimmed your thoughts a little, but this inappropriate talk cracked me up haha. It's wonderful to see such hope for a pair of non-lovers and I hope you'll get your chance to see them grow into lover one day. *fingers crossed*

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    1. There were a lot of conflicting opinions when it first came out since Dani is 14 and Ryodan, Christian and Dancer were all older (2 of them immortal), but I think a lot of it comes from the fact that people wanted a romance like the one between Mac and Barrons, and obviously with Dani's age that wasn't going to happen in this book. KMM's said repeatedly she's headed there though, so I can't wait to see what's in store for us when Dani's older:)

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  7. I still have to read this, Jenny! I know! I don't know how much I'll like this since Barron's isn't in it, but I guess I'll have to join Team Ryodan! ;)

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    1. Barrons is in it oh so briefly, but trust in Ryodan Keertana, he won't let you down! It's fun to see the similarities between him and Barrons, but it's even more fun to see their differences. Ryodan might be even more alpha than Barrons and I loved every second of him:)

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  8. You've made such excellent points, Jenny, and you explained them so well, which I admire. And I even agree with you 100%. Dani's age didn't bother me in the least, for all the same reasons, although I didn't articulate them that clearly, not even in my head.

    What DID bother me, though, is the whole Jo thing. I realize it's my fault, and I AM a bit stuck on those romance cliches from the 90's, I'm well aware of that. But I get jealous on behalf of the characters I love, even when there's only a promise of a relationship, and unfortunately, it's not something I can push myself past. Call it a personal flaw, but it is what it is.

    Hopefully I'll go back to the series once the air clears.

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    1. I felt the same way Maja! That first scene when she walks in them made my whole body shudder and I had to set the book down and walk away I was so upset by it. I just sort of tucked that image away in the back of my mind and tried to remind myself it wasn't possible for him to be with Dani, but that only worked some of the time. I totally hear you on the jealousy on behalf of the characters, I turned green every time Jo was mentioned and I may have wished violence on her:)

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  9. Can I print out this post and hang it on my wall?? Yes please:)

    You know how much I love ICED and just basically all things that come out of KMM's head. Many people had issues with Dani being 14 - I didn't so much as I was hoping for more romance. But that was all the reasons why I wanted her to be older. Because she definitely sounds much more mature than any other 14 year old out there. Given her upbringing it totally makes all kind of sense.

    and yes, Jo and Ryodan's relation irked me, but on the other hand KMM is totally right. We are defined by "normal" relationships and honestly nothing about Barrons and Ryodan is any kind of normal. Still, Jo and Ry have a normal "´physical relationship which exists also outside of KMM worlds!

    I could go on and on.. I definitely could talk about KMM, ICED and her books forever°

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    1. Right? I had to stop myself from writing any more about this book, there's just so much to say! I could have launched into a whole "I want Jo away from Ryodan" diatribe, but I'm beyond excited that she's going to be 17 in Burned. Maybe Jo will get the boot then. I do hope she keeps Burned/Flayed 2 books instead of combining them into one though.

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  10. I'd totally walk upstairs at Ryodan's nod. Sure, it irked me because I *knew* Dani will EVENTUALLY be with him but he's a sexual being and needs that physical relationship. Sure, Dani's a more mature 14 but that thought still squicks me out. Ryodan's such a bad ass and I love him so very much. ALL THE FEELS for this series!! ALL OF THEM, JENNY!!

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    1. Me too Mary. Without hesitation. I've already told Kevin it would happen and he was all WTF? I just told him sorry but it couldn't be helped:)

      The Jo relationship really bothered me as well because I so want him just for Dani, but obviously it would be weird and creepy if he was waiting for her and Ryodan is just not the type of man to wait. I'm excited to see how KMM will get them there (and get Jo the hell out of the way!)

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  11. Ohh, Jenny! This is a fantastic post, although I skimmed some of it because I'm afraid I'd get spoiled, I haven't read Iced yet. But from the parts that I've read I took notes on some factors that would be really helpful when I started to read the series again, I'm actually waiting for the next two books before starting Iced. Hahaha. But wow, I can see your passion on this series. I hope I could make something like this someday, I'm pretty lazy and my English isn't really that great. Haha. Anyhow, thanks so much for sharing this wonderful post. :D

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    1. YAY EUNICE!!! I'm so glad you're reading the Fever series, definitely best to read those first because there are major spoilers in Iced for them. Are you on Dreamfever then? You'll definitely want Shadowfever on hand, there's the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers at the end of that one:)

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  12. Eww! There was a rumor about Ryodan being Dani's dad? That's so disgusting because I'm totally rooting for Ryodan as Dani's romantic interest. I like Christian too, but he's getting very alpha and super creepy after his death by fae changes, but I wish we do get his story along with Dani's, just not with her :) I don't know anything about Dancer besides that he's geeky and smart. Not very strong qualities if he's up against Ryodan.

    I was okay with the Jo situation until Dani walked in on them. That was super weird and I don't know how Dani will have feelings for Ryodan after seeing him with someone else. Knowing is one thing, but the actual visual is different.

    I can't wait to read Burned! I actually like that KMM is thinking of combining the series. Great post, Jenny!

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  13. I feel the exact same way you do! I'm glad I'm not the only one either.. I was starting to feel like maybe I was the oddball out since so many people seem to be accusing KMM of pedophilia type writing - which I in now way saw. Yes there were some innuendos from Ryodan's team, BUT he squashed them and in my opinion, he's done his best to protect her - while still using her for his own interests of course (which hasn't included sex, the most important point!)

    I am sort of rooting for Dani and Dancer, I love Dancer so much. But, I like you, think she will end up with Ryodan in the future.

    I also agree with you (and KMM)about Christian. I mean geez, cut the man a LITTLE slack he's turning into a death-by-sex fae prince!! I think anyone in his position would have a little bit of weakness on control - which is what makes him so dangerous for Dani, even though so far he's trying to protect her too. I really hope he's either "cured" somehow or is able to keep a human part of himself while he is a prince. So far, we don't really have any way of comparing a human turned death-by-sex fae to the princes who originated Unseelie in the first place - so my hope is Christian doesn't turn out EXACTLY like them.

    I'm a little bummed KMM is thinking of combining them - simple because I want as many books as possible!! :D (Greedy I know, but what fan isn't?) :D

    Thanks for a great discussion!

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  14. Oh Jenny! You've found out so many important goodies! I'm thrilled to hear Ryodan is NOT Dani's father and that she might be 17 in the next book *phew!* You make so many good points in this post. Ones I wholeheartedly agree with, as you know from our countless emails back and forth, lol! Ugh, Jo *spits in disgust* I'm sorry, I still can't stomach those two together. She knows Ryodan thinks of Dani in the long term and I'm a little worried she might try something to block that. Like a Fiona move.

    Now that I'm reminded of Iced again I'm ticked off all over that we have to wait so long for the release of Burned!!! I need it IMMEDIATELY IF NOT SOONER!!! *takes a calm cooling breath* Brilliant post, Jenny!! ;)

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  15. Don't hurt me but I have not read this book yet. *ducks from food* I will read it. I just finish the other last book, and I liked it. A little disappointed in how it ended.

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  16. The only thing I love more than incoherent fangirling is eloquent fangirling, and you have mastered the art! :-) I've already been convinced by you and Heidi that I need to catch up on the Fever series, and specifically ICED, but this post is making it even harder to be a good girl and wait until my review copies are read to indulge in a binge series read. I must meet Ryodan NOW! :-)

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  17. tbh the age squickyness (a totally technical term) is the only reason why I haven't read this one yet. It just sounded so bad! Plus even though I did grow to love Dani, she totally annoyed me as well. But after reading your thoughts I REALLY think I'll have to pick this one up. Perhaps I'll wait until closer to the 2nd book's release, though, since it's been a while since I finished the Fever books.

    I also totally love the idea of spoiler/discussion posts like this one, because sometimes there's a lot of fangirling and talking I want to do about books, but the things just don't fit in a review.

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  18. I kind of want to scream right now. And maybe smack myself a time or two. I STILL have not read this! It's sitting in plain site, just WAITING to be picked up but I haven't been able to fit it in. When I decide to pick up non-review books they are usually light reads. But I WILL read this soon(ish). I WILL.
    The fact that the next book isn't coming out for ages has me thinking that maybe it's NOT so bad that I've waited. Having the long wait for the next book will be torture. I can't remember what people have said, does this book have a cliffhanger? If it has a good conclusion then I want to read it soonish, but if it has a cliffhanger than waiting is best. KMM has THE WORST CLIFFHANGERS in her books!

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  19. The beginning is slow but worth the ride. The book itself is great. There are times I am not sure where KMM is going with the relationships but I figure in the end it will all make sence. The whole Jo thing does raise my blood pressure for the simple fact that Ryodan is not discreet regarding his sexual wants/needs in front of Dani knowing how she feels about protecting her friend. A man of his years and experience, you would think, would be more discreet.

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