The Iron King - Julie Kagawa
Until about halfway, I was positive I'd give this 4 or 4.5 stars.

(light spoilers, you are warned.)

I was absolutely enchanted by Nevernever and how Kagawa described it, and even though the plot was stale and way overused (a sister saving her brother who was kidnapped by the fay) I was enjoying Iron King. It's been a while since I'd read a book about the Fay and I thought this one seemed very promising. Sometimes the writing was a bit stilted, but the majority was beautiful and evocative.

But then Ash came to play a larger role. I almost started to groan at everything he said and every time Meghan looked at him and admired his "so perfect, awesome, captivating" beauty. On the last leg of the book, his character and "relationship" with Meghan made me want to put Iron King down and just not finish. I write relationship with such hesitation because there was no substance to whatever they were pretending to have, and there was no room for anything to grow (let alone begin) in the time the novel allowed.

I remembered the words on the cover: "A love doomed from the start," and I immediately was intrigued--well, immediately as in when I found out Robbie was actually Puck. This could be a cool (and rather cute) angle; I mean, Puck isn't one I would think of normally to play the romantic lead. How would Kagawa pull this off and keep him in character? I was sure there would be a lot of hilarious miscommunication between the two and it was already making me smile.

And then I realized Ash wasn't just going to be that hunter. Every time he appeared, Kagawa made it certain we knew how absolutely handsome he was. I think every single adjective for beautiful was used to describe him and it made me sick. Not to mention, Ash never really SAID anything: he growled it (which is a rather impossible dialogue tag to be honest) or muttered it, which really got old after a while.

And then Puck had to be out of the way so Meghan and Ash could somehow bond. Before "it" happened, I was actually annoyed at how only Puck was getting hurt during that scene. Then it all came clear: of course, Meghan and Ash somehow needed to fall in love before the end of the book. Right.

Somehow, Meghan and Ash DID fall in love. Almost immediately.

And then near the end, during the climax, everything was so ridiculous it took a great amount of willpower to finish it. Ash was so hurt by the iron that he couldn't even stand. Then suddenly he's swinging his sword and defending Meghan. Okay, adrenaline, I'll just say it was adrenaline. And then a couple pages later: "It's taking all my concentration not to faint." And then somehow he's on his feet and running and swinging his sword around again. And THEN, he's pretty much unconscious on a floor, barely able to speak, and then he gets up AGAIN and escapes out of these long tunnels. The ending felt terribly rushed, and it was riddled with continuity errors, such as when Meghan first wielded Ash's sword, her fingers burned from the ice. The second time, the ice wasn't even mentioned. I flipped back to the other scene for a while, but it didn't make sense.

Not to mention, how this whole book parallels Labyrinth to a drastic degree. I almost thought Ash would come out in a scene wearing tight pants and start to sing.

I'm being really harsh, I know. I guess I'm bitter because I LOVED (as in really really loved) the book until Ash got a larger role to play. I think he's largely the reason that I'm going to return the two other books of the series to the library unopened.