by Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
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.
(synopsis from Goodreads)
Warning: review contains SPOILERS
When I was a kid, I had a VHS tape of an adaptation of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. I probably watched it once, it was so mind-numbingly boring. When I bought Ice, seduced by the beautiful cover, I didn't realize that it wasn't just that film adaptation that was boring. The story itself is just not very interesting (which is probably why Disney never bothered)! Sarah Beth Durst added a whole new dimension to the story that provided some much-needed interest... but those same changes were what ultimately turned me off the story altogether.
I was enjoying the story up until Cassie found out she was pregnant. Up until then, it had been a nice mix of present-day action and fairytale romance. But then Bear had to go and get Cassie pregnant (against her will, I might add) and everything fell apart. The fairytale elements began to seem cheesy and jarringly unrealistic (whereas they'd blended better with the first part of the book) and the story started to remind me of Breaking Dawn, with Cassie talking to her unborn baby every time it kicked. I thought the glorification of pregnancy was a bit too much for a young adult book, even though it made sense in the context of the plot. With a bit of tweaking, this would have been better suited to an adult genre. As someone without kids, I found it hard to relate to Cassie after she got pregnant and started all the fetus conversations; I'm pretty sure a 13-year-old wouldn't really be into reading about that, either.
So I understand why the author might have chosen to go in the direction she did, but I'm not convinced it worked for the young adult genre. While Ice is an improvement on the folk tale, it was still a disappointment.
Overall: 2.29 out of 5