Amy Thorne's Reviews > Ice

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
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May 18, 10

bookshelves: based-on-fairytales
Read in May, 2010

This is the third book I've read lately that involves a setting with a lot of ice and cold. And two of those are based on the "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" folktale. Huh.

I really like that particular folktale, and I guess that shows. In this adaptation, Cassie is a teen who has lived all her life with her father in an Arctic research station. And then, when she turns 18, a bigass magic polar bear (MINOR SPOILER) shows up and explains to her that her grandmother's old fairytale was actually factual family history and he's come to claim her as his wife. True story.

(SPOILER END, do pick it up here)

YA books are written and read, in part, as a way for young people to explore experiences that they have not had (and sometimes would not want to). This is in fact not unique to YA lit; adult fiction frequently serves the same purpose. The trick is doing it in an awesome way, a way that doesn't seem...awful, especially when it comes to romances. Ice does a fine job, I believe, especially compared to some other YA fiction juggernauts I could mention.

(SPOILERS AGAIN, BIGGER THAN THE LAST ONE)

In this case, the experiences are marriage (under duress) and pregnancy (wait, stay with me!). A fantasy experience (and a popular one, or so many YA characters would not have met their soul mates in high school over the years). Ice manages it without turning Cassie into a spineless doormat. She starts off independently minded, stubborn and intelligent--and she stays that way for the whole book. She gradually falls in love with her husband (having married him in exchange for his saving her mother) as he earnestly wins her over with his affection and personality. (MAJOR SPOILERS) When she becomes pregnant because he rights the chemical imbalance caused by her birth control (not knowing that it wasn't something that needed fixing), she is righteously pissed. And when he's spirited off, she goes to rescue him--despite still being pissed and knowing that no matter how much she wants it, they can't go back to how it was. She marches off pregnant, across the Arctic and the tundra, through hardships and dangers--she is going off to rescue her husband nine months pregnant with MOTHERF***ING TRENCHFOOT. When she's told that something might upset her worldview, she replies, "Don't worry about me. I married a talking bear."

This is the kind of teen marriage/motherhood I can get behind.


The side characters are terribly fleshed out--but this is Cassie's story, through and through, so that doesn't really matter so much. The pacing is very good, unlike another teen/morphing human romance I could name (cough::Shiver::cough), and Cassie herself is a vastly superior character to another supernatural romance female lead that I wish would just die and go away forever. This read is really worth it.
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