Let’s Talk About…

I’ve been slowly making my way through Karen Marie Moning’s latest offering, Iced. Starring Dani “Mega” O’Malley, it’s set in the Fever world, the post-wall fall Dublin of Shadowfever. We’ve also got Christian MacKeltar, Ryodan, Kat, and the elusive Dancer rounding the cast for this book. I keep waiting for Mac and Barrons to show up, but no luck.

There’s a bit of controversy surrounding Iced and the subsequent books that will round out this new trilogy. See, Dani’s just 14. Moning writes adult romance novels. She writes steamy adult romance novels. This being the Fever world, sex abounds. It is, after all, populated with death-by-sex fae.

Sex surrounds Dani. She sees it in Chester’s, the club Ryodan runs as a neutral ground for Seelie and Unseelie, and those humans wanting to escape the grim reality they’re forced to endure. We’ve got Cruce, imprisoned beneath the abbey in a block of ice, tempting and fucking poor Kat in her sleep, tormenting her soul because she knows she needs to resist him, but, well, he’s a death-by-sex fae, and resistance is futile. And then there’s Christian MacKeltar, who has gone from being a grad student and powerful druid to…well, to tell you what he’s morphed into would give away crucial plot points. He’s obsessed with sex.

And with Dani. Yeah. Fourteen year old Dani.

Moning has said by the end of the trilogy Dani will be 17. It’s the legal age of consent, and she’s also said yes, Dani will lose her virginity to one of the men introduced in Iced. That gives us several contenders: Ryodan, Christian, Dancer, possibly even Lor, whom she loves to rag on.

Every single one of those men, besides Dancer, are older than Dani. Much older. And that’s what’s got everyone a little creeped out.

Iced is not YA. The other two books in the trilogy (Burned and Flayed) will not be YA. I’m not so sure I’m okay with a teenager having sex with a potentially much older man. I’m not so sure Dani’s okay with it, either.

Part of it, I think, is Dani’s whole attitude toward sex. One thing Moning does extremely well (besides dropping you headfirst into the gritty, dark, post-wall fall Dublin she created) is planting you firmly inside Dani’s head. That means I’ve been walking around for the past week calling more people than usual “dude” and feeling like I need a candy bar to recharge every time I stop reading.

But like any young teenager, Dani wavers about sex. She wants it. It disgusts her. She knows she’s not ready for it, and when she is, she wants it to be when she chooses, how she chooses, and with whom she chooses.

That last bit is crucial. And I think that last bit is what’s going to make all of this okay. See, she thinks Christian is hot, but he’s too far gone into his otherness for her to be comfortable with him…and she mostly sees him as a potential sidekick who’s occasionally saved her life. She finds Ryodan annoying and the thought of him gettin’ it on grosses her out (especially after she walks in on him once).

Which leaves us with Dancer. Dancer is normal, completely human, albeit genius-style smart. He’s also only a few years older than Dani, still pretty much a kid himself. She loves him now, as her best friend, as the one person who allows her to be a kid every once in a while, and for me, that leaves the door open for their relationship to grow and change. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.

Yeah, I’d be disappointed and disgusted if Moning went any other way with this story. Teens these days are already inundated with sex, on TV (thank you, Teen Moms), in the movies, in books, in music, even in the clothes they wear. Having a teenager hook up with an older man just makes my skin crawl.

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