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.ICE is a modern-day retelling of “East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon”. I've never read that fairytale but ICE is one of the most unique and strangest books I've ever read. It was an adventure that I never expected. The imagery is so strong in this book you can't help but picture the setting and transporting yourself there. The idea of Munaqsri, caretakers (every species has their own) who transfer and transport souls was an interesting and imaginative concept.
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.
I like development of characters and romance, and unfortunately ICE disappointed me in that area. I read tonnes of reviews that this is a really romantic tale but I didn't find that to be the case. Cassie has to marry the Polar Bear King and he promises to help free her mother from the trolls. Instead of reading about Cassie getting closer and more comfortable with the Bear, we are told that weeks pass and she has adjusted to his company. At first, I was irked about the idea of a polar bear and a human but was also intrigued. If I could read more about the development in their relationship I might have been OK about the idea but instead I was constantly bothered by it throughout the book especially since they have a 'wedding night' out of the blue.
The Polar Bear, called 'Bear' by Cassie, wasn't fleshed out enough. I found him neutral - I didn't like or hate him. He rarely spoke and was missing for more than half of the book. The parts when he was able to turn human form and why, was not explained. Many characters were introduced but they were put aside after Part 1.
Cassie's journey became the focus of Part 2 and 3 of the book. I had to constantly remind myself that she was 18 years old. Her dialogue was occasionally awkward especially considering she has been in a secluded place without people her age for most of her life. Cassie was strong from start to finish, never giving up her goal which is admirable, but I never warmed up to her. She kept feeling sorry for herself when she herself was mostly to blame, in my opinion.
ICE felt like a rollercoaster (with a lengthy, boring part in the middle). It started off really good and then slow and then picked up for a short but great ending. I didn't see that type of ending coming so it was a surprise and finished the story off nicely.