I really, really wanted to like The Iron Daughter as much as I liked The Iron King. The setting, the characters… they are all really fascinating. But I was sadly disappointed by the star-crossed-lovers direction Kagawa took with this book.
After destroying Machina, the Iron King, at the end of the first book, Meghan finds herself a willing captive of the Unseelie queen, Mab, and she unfortunately spends a good deal of her time in Tir Na Nog moping because Ash, her lovely Unseelie prince, isn’t paying attention to her.
Now, I really wanted Meghan to be a… I don’t know, stronger character than that. I tend to not read a lot of teen lit because I find the abundance of girls whose entire sense of self-worth is based on whether or not a boy loves her to be pretty revolting. Maybe I’m an old fogey compared to teen readers, but I have little patience for characters who mope and whine and angst obsessively over That Guy. I want to reach into the book and shake them. I long for a teen book in which the protagonist realizes that this guy is actually a jerk/obsessive creeper/loser/whatever and that she’s much better off without him (if you’ve got recommendations, please let me know!).
So I had high hopes for Meghan. In The Iron King and to a certain extent in The Iron Daughter, she shows great bravery, even in fights where she has absolutely no idea what she can do to help. She’s smart, inventive, and is willing to do what’s right even if it means life will be much harder for her.
It disappointed the crap out of me that most of her internal thoughts in this book have to do with Ash. Does he love her, why is he being a jerk to her, what will her life be like without him, repeat ad nauseam. The whole time I’m thinking, ‘Good grief, didn’t he tell you he can’t be nice to you in the Winter Court?! Use your brain!’ Much of her personal growth seems to fly out the window when Ash is around to protect her or glower at her or gaze solemnly at her but with a tiny curve in the corner of his mouth.
On top of my frustration with this, I’m also just not much of a fan of Ash. As I mentioned in my review of The Iron King, he’s kind of a non-entity. He’s gorgeous, yes, and cold and distant. Despite the attempts in this book to show some of his background and motivations, he’s still a cardboard cutout of a character. I want a lot more of him if I’m supposed to buy into Meghan’s love for him. I’m hopeful that The Iron Queen will show off more of Ash’s personality, but as it was, I had a lot of trouble buying into the love story and particularly the ending of the book. You’ll never catch me saying that I’m “Team So-and-So” (one of these days, I’ll post my rant about that), but I’m much more interested in Puck as a character and therefore as a love interest for Meghan.
Lest this review sound too negative, I did enjoy the book. Meghan’s adventures are exciting, and she finds herself in some seriously tight spots. I really like that she’s coming into her own power, and I’m very interested to find out what her strange magical affinity for metal is all about. I’m sticking with the series in the hopes that either a) Ash becomes a more fleshed-out character, or b) Meghan dumps the Ice Prince and stops angsting all the time. Or maybe I need to dig a little deeper into my own memory and try to remember what it was like to be a sixteen year old girl.
…Nah. Too painful. ;)