Book Review of Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

Posted August 16, 2013 by Kara in book review, Lyn / 4 Comments

Book Review of Ice by Sarah Beth DurstIce by Sarah Beth Durst
Published by Margaret K. McElderry on October 6th, 2009
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 320
Buy on Amazon

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.

“You are brightness. You are light. I come from a world of ice.”

Review: This book was part of my Viking challenge. East of the Sun, West of the Moon is my favorite fairy tale, and brought me closer to Scandinavian literature. When I read the description for this book, I was all over it.  I already read East by Edith Pattou and Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George, so adding this to the collection of retellings only made sense.  I also noticed that the last book I read (Vessel) was also written by the same author.

Ice is a very…odd yet strong story.  On one hand, Cassie is a likable, strong female character, and the voice of the book is very vivid.  However, the clueless attitude of the characters (including Cassie), and the creepy, forced relationship made me feel highly uncomfortable at the end.

What was good?

  • With any EotS, WotM story, the female lead is the main feature.  This book was no exception.
  • I love the scientific element of polar research and polar bear conservation theme!
  • The author took a lot of creative liberty, and it worked for the better in the story.
  • The voice of the book helped color the details of the world. I LOVED the ice castle!
  • The main concern wasn’t the attractiveness of the female MC. And she’s a red-head. WOO WOO!

What didn’t work?

  • I’m a bit conflicted about the relationship between Cassie and Bear.  It felt a bit uncomfortable about the approach to their romance.  It was sweet how they warmed up to one another, but a forced marriage and another spoiler-heavy event was entirely creepy.It was highly squeamish.
  • Cassie was likable and strong, but she was infuriatingly clueless at times.
  • The story was very rushed and felt a bit flat.
  • The god-like deities were jerks and borderline horrible.  If these beings are in charge of the world, then I am moving.
  • The mother storyline never really fleshed out.

I felt that Vessel was a much stronger book than this particular one.  Ice seemed to have the best intentions, and the author put a lot of work into spinning an old story into a new one, but the execution seemed fumbled and the characters went out of their way to become unlikable. Overall, not a bad read, but a bit of an uncomfortable one.


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