Friday, October 3, 2014

Frozen: Heart of Dread, Book One by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

The Basics:
Frozen: Heart of Dread, Book One by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston
Orchard Books
Book One in the Heart of Dread series
Science Fiction, YA
Published Originally September 17, 2013
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

I was intrigued by the dystopian feel of the blurb, and I liked the cover.

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 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?
Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all. This is a remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic.
My thoughts:

So here's the thing about Frozen: there are some great ideas in it, and I loved all the big concepts. On paper, summarized? The book looks fantastic. Lots of action and adventure, lots of danger, romance....

But! I didn't think there was a lot of good material connecting all those big ideas. The details were a bit of a mess for me, if I'm being honest. My sense of the world was slippery at best - I got a bunch of not always connected facts and had to kind of piece together an understanding of what this world looked like and how it had come to be.

I found this same sketchy vagueness surrounded the traveling portion of the book (which is the main thrust of the plot). Much of the book is spent in motion, travelling from point A to point B - or C or D or what have you as plans change. And though my impression of the world was that it's fairly desolate beyond the pockets of civilization, our intrepid cast of characters were constantly tripping over people. Constantly. 

There's also this odd tension between being unable to scrap together enough money to eat, but having access to firearms and vehicles. Perhaps food was significantly more expensive? 

I didn't understand why these characters were so young - or rather, I did, but they rarely acted young. Instead, they're world-weary at 16, and have an expected lifespan of about 30, it seems. The talk of being married so young and dealing with all the government regulations around that and having children felt out of place for such young kids. Not to mention that their lives were so *full* before this point. Ryan was a decorated soldier who had served on missions and then spent enough time post-soldier life to have built a reputation. How old was he when he first became a soldier?

My impression was also that there were grandparents who remembered life before the big freeze - the speed at which the world - society - changes didn't feel right to me.

The magic/supernatural components also didn't hang together for me. There weren't enough explanations to really get a clear sense of things. I wanted to know the whys of everything and these were missing.

Ultimately, the book is an easy read, but at the same time, a challenging one because so many things didn't quite make sense for me. Perhaps more explanations are forthcoming in book two in the series?  

Bottom line:

Unless you're a huge fan of the authors, I'd suggest passing on this one. Too many details seemed to be tossed out without being linked together or fully conceived, and I found the book frustrating because of it.

2 stars
For fans of Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston.

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