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Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
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Ice (edition 2009)

by Sarah Beth Durst

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3714029,183 (3.76)17
Member:stephxsu
Title:Ice
Authors:Sarah Beth Durst
Info:Margaret K. McElderry (2009), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:****1/2
Tags:young adult, fantasy, retelling, magic, love, adventure, Arctic

Work details

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

  1. 20
    East by Edith Pattou (infiniteletters)
  2. 10
    Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: The beginning of Ice - where she's in Bear's palace made of ice - reminded me very much of the magical beautiful world McKinley creates in her re-telling of Beauty and the Beast.
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Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
(Originally reviewed at thelibraryladies.com.)

I recently read and liked “Conjured” by Sarah Beth Durst, and after putting together our list of favorite holiday reads that included a re-telling of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” I discovered the perfect combination of the two with “Ice!” Or…what I thought would be the perfect combination. Sigh.

The story starts out strong enough. I enjoyed the unique approach of setting the story in the modern world with Cassie and her father living in a research station in the Arctic. Cassie herself is introduced as a capable and intelligent protagonist. She conducts research herself and knows much about the Arctic environment and local wildlife. Enough to know that the polar bear tracks she’s seeing are much too large for the regular animals that roam the area.

Another plus has to do with some of the fairytale aspects and their interpretation in this story. The mythology and characters that were introduced were interesting and cleverly tied together, working well within the original fairytale mold while not feeling too tied down by it. The author struck a nice balance between incorporating these portions while also tying the story neatly into Intuit culture and folklore. I also enjoyed the more proactive role that Cassie originally takes in this tale> She makes a bargain of her own with Bear, insisting that she would only agree to marry him if she saved her mother. That said, this initial level of competence and independence on Cassie’s part only serves against the story later when she loses these exact traits in rather disturbing ways.

Most of the portions of the book that I enjoyed most arrived in the first half of the book, and I was pretty fully on board. But then…look, one of the main falling points for retellings of this story is giving the character of Bear a strong enough personality that he stands on his own and makes the slow-burn romance believable. And, while Bear does have somewhat of a personality, the story starts faltering right off that bat. Their relationship, one based on distrust and a forced situation, develops far too quickly to friendship and love. And while this is frustrating, it’s a familiar pitfall. But then…it’s the story takes a nosedive into “Breaking Dawn” territory with a forced pregnancy. Essentially, Bear magically deactivates Cassie’s birth control and then informs her of this after she’s three months pregnant. And from there on out the story just kind of died for me.

While Cassie is initially angry, she comes around to things way too easily. Bear as a romantic lead was killed for me, as this type of behavior is the epitome of abusive. Further, not only has Bear treated Cassie as the human equivalent of an incubator taking no consideration for her own choices about motherhood (she’s 18, remember!), but for the last half of the story, almost every other character she interacts with takes the same approach. Her decisions are constantly questioned with the worry that she’s “risking the baby” and it all gets to be too much. First, the fact that there is no concern expressed for Cassie herself, but only for the child, is saddening. And secondly, Cassie has already had the decision to be a parent taken out of her hands, but now her decisions for how to prioritize her life, protect those she loves, not just the baby, and operate as an individual are being questioned at every moment, as if she has no other purpose than to be pregnant. All of this was incredibly frustrating to read. And I could never get back on board with any romance between Cassie and Bear.

This was a very disappointing read for me. I have read other books by this author and really enjoyed them, so I had high expectations for this story. And the first half is so strong that it makes the large missteps of the latter half all the more frustrating for potential squandered. I really can’t recommend this book. There are much better re-tellings of this story, like “East,” the one I recommended in our “Holidays Favorites” post. ( )
  thelibraryladies | Feb 4, 2017 |
This book was such a great book! I hadn't heard of this fairy tale before, but after reading this book, it rates up there with Beauty & the Beast as one of my favorites. ( )
  CarpeLibrum58 | Jun 4, 2016 |
This was okay but I don't think the storyline or characters were believable enough for me to really enjoy. I never really took to Cassie as she often annoyed me, but Bear I loved. He was by far my favourite character. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 23, 2016 |
I had this on my most-wanted list/wishlist on Goodreads for the longest time and I was actually gifted it this last Christmas. I was SO happy to read this book, and I don't believe I heard anything bad about it.

It started out sounding really interesting. The prologue was the telling of the fairytale about the Polar Bear King finding a daughter for the North Wind. The North Wind promised the Polar Bear King that if he did this, his daughter would be his wife when she was old enough. We later learn this daughter is of some importance in the story and that fairy tale is no fairy tale at all - it's factual events.

I was really excited for this story because it was so unique, which probably made my disappointment even more bitter. Cassie, the main character, falls agrees to wed the Polar Bear King in order to save her mother and planned on living her life normally from then on after. However, she falls in love and then gets knocked up. And she's only 18. I found such a strong resemblance to Twilight's romance in this, that I nearly chucked the book out the window. I only finished it for a read-a-thon I was participating in.

The plot was so incredibly pointless that I was almost bored. There was also no way to connect to Cassie because the book moved SO fast. A chapter into the story and she's already met the Polar Bear King. There needed to be a foundation built so the reader could connect with Cassie and actually care about what happened to her.

There were little moments in the story that I liked and thought cute, but nothing to redeem the book as a whole. I wouldn't recommend this to kids, nor to my older friends. Fantastic idea, but the execution failed. ( )
  SpazzyDragon13 | Jul 7, 2015 |
I enjoyed this one quite a lot, particularly the spunky heroine Cassie. My favorite parts of the book were those featuring Cassie and the Polar Bear King, which mixed familiar fairy tale elements with a modern, wry humor and a dollop of beauty. I also really appreciated the strength and detail of the arctic landscape (it also made me very glad to be reading it snuggled in a warm bed under a heating blanket!).

  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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For my husband, Adam,

with love.

I would go east of the sun and west of the moon for you.
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Once upon a time, the North Wind said to the Polar Bear King, ‘Steal me a daughter, and when she grows, she will be your bride.’
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 141698643X, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:41 -0400)

A modern-day retelling of "East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon" in which eighteen-year-old Cassie learns that her grandmother's fairy tale is true when a Polar Bear King comes to claim her for his bride and she must decide whether to go with him and save her long-lost mother, or continue helping her father with his research.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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