Wednesday 1 October 2014

Book Review - Frozen

Author: Melissa De La Cruz, Michael Johnston
Series: Heart of Dread #1
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy | Young Adult
Release Date: 2nd October 2014
Publishers: Orchard Books
No. Pages: 365
Source: Review Copy - Orchard Books
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature - freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called "the Blue." They say it's a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies?

Frozen is, as many people have already revealed in their reviews, a clear hit or miss with readers, and I can quite clearly see and understand why this is the way. Some of the characters are indeed quite frustrating, others are really quite intriguing, and the plot is a little, littered and unclear, but the pacing is really quite enjoyable. I've felt torn on books before and my thoughts and feelings for them, but Frozen is a whole other kettle of fish.

The biggest issue that I had with Frozen, and I'm certain other people had/have too is the world. Now this issue has a few other sub-issues included, such as the fact that a frozen world is mainly blue and white, is always pretty cold and doesn't hold much in the way for descriptions or scenery - it's very cold, very blue and very snowy, welcome to Earth - to me, that is not the best way to kick-start off a dystopian world. Secondly, how about the fact that this 'frozen earth' scenario is not once explained, or at least, never probably, and the lack continuity in some of the explanations is childlike at best; the sun has apparently gone out or been dullened in a way that means the earth is extremely cold, yet human/animal/plant life still exists, the earth's atmosphere is still in tact there's one part of earth that is all 'green land, blue skies and clear oceans'? I apologise, but if the sun had affective lost it's heat and shine, it would be literally impossible for anything to sustain a life force, never mind the fact that as the sun will start to destroy itself, the earth will HEAT UP, not freeze over. I don't have a problem with dystopian worlds using the future as a starting point, but please, get your science right before you start meddling, I won't be holding out second chances. Lastly, I couldn't understand how this earth in the future could sustain the life force of mages, smallmen, which are essentially dwarfs, yet nobody touches on this subject, mythical, magical creatures which are essentially dragons and attempt to weave human life within it all - people can't just be born with a mark and have special abilities, and the earth can't just freeze over, and mythical creatures can't just happen to return, it's unrealistic, even for a dystopian, and it's fair to say that the world in Frozen was the biggest issue I had with this novel.

Yet when I took a step back from the world and those issues, Frozen was in fact, surprisingly, quite an entertaining read from the beginning. I was very intrigued as to the main character 'Nat' and what her secrets where, not to mention her bound to be destiny was, and I stand corrected, I was happily impressed. Her character was a capable, independent and reliable woman, with skills, bravery and emotions to match, and no, I can't say she didn't frustrate me from time to time, but she most definitely didn't make me want to kill her, which is also a wonderful bonus. Her history, her circumstances and her abilities made her interesting and intriguing, while her humanity made her quite easy to relate to, both one the female and emotions front, but also on the trust issues front. Wes was also quite an interesting character to read about; he was definitely a tad young to have been a sergeant, no matter what kind of the world this is, but he was easy going, calm and relaxed and worked brilliantly under pressure. He developed quite a nice relationship with Nat, maybe not ship worthy, but not not pleasurable, and had a great relationship with both his crew and his friend Shake, who I really developed a soft spot for. The characters, in this novel were really worth pushing through the world errors and I came to really enjoy reading about them.

The plot and pacing is yet another subject entirely. The plot itself was a little - well, it was clear what the aim was, and it was clear that in order to make trekking across an ocean that bit more interesting, you need some drama, some back-stabbing and some rescues, but honestly, I felt a tad unimpressed with these areas, they were okay, but they weren't entertaining or interesting and personally felt lagging in development and intrigue, I couldn't wait to get back into the sea and have some characters interacting. The pacing however, felt like witchcraft. Even with the world issues, and the plot feeling disjointed, I found the whole pace and speed and want to read this novel was extremely strong and really fast. I was flicking through pages at fantastic speeds, I was constantly waiting and enjoying the next chapters, finding it difficult to actually put the novel down, but when I did, I felt like I was pulled out of the novel entirely, like there wasn't much to go back for..

There were other little tricks and features that I was both impressed and depressed by, having a drakon, which is essentially a dragon, naming zombie styled creatures after Michael Jacksons Thriller, having the characters suffer from frostblight, not bite, calling dwarfs smallmen, magically gifted sylphs when that is in fact meant to symbolise air elementals, not just all elements - these features frustrated me, but adding the mystery of Wes's sister, the twists of back-stabbing on the crew, the actual magic and mythical aspects and the generally fantastic action scene at the very end, these were some extra little positives that made Frozen much more enjoyable than I had originally thought. I can't say that is without it's issues, they are glaring and obvious and can quite easily affect anybody's enjoyment, but I was impressed by what else the story had the feature and can confess to maybe being interested in where this series goes next. I will not say no to more Shake..


  1. I can't stand bad world building and as I've read multiple other reviews about this book that also mention that issue, I think I am going to stay far far away from this book. I like it when the world building makes sense and a book needs to be really good to compensate for bad world building. I am glad to hear you still enjoyed it beside the issues you had with it :)

    1. This is the biggest weakness in this series for sure, and it's a shame, I liked it's other features a lot too. I do think if you're world building focused, that this isn't for you, so good idea to avoid. Thank you though :)


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