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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Frozen (Heart of Dread #1) by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

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? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.

Released: September 17th 2013    Pages: 336
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile           Source: Library
First Look: ***** What is happening with the cover model's hair?  Hair floats.  Hair doesn't sink down like that.  I realize that the cover does say "frozen", but even if she was currently frozen, the water would've been liquid when she entered it, and either way, I read the entire book and I don't remember her being frozen in water.  Anyway, now that I've taken care of that, I need to tell you something.  Something this book's description doesn't say, but should.  DYSTOPIAN NAVAL BATTLE WITH DRAGONS.  If someone had forgone writing the description and simply wrote those five words, I probably would have picked this up sooner than I already did.

Setting: *****
Finally--a dystopian setting in which the world has gotten colder instead of warmer.  Even if I couldn't physically feel the cold myself, it was still a refreshing change.  The cooling aspect alone is enough to make this setting stand out, just because of how unique it is.

It doesn't stop at the cold, though.  Everything in this setting is so vivid, detailed, and gritty.  The world has less order and more chaos, like many dystopians.  What I love, though, is how this setting reflects on the characters who live in it.  Each character is a product of the world in which they grew up.  This is the key to making settings that feel real--tie it in with the characters. 

Characters: ***** 
I love books that involve two point-of-view characters who, at least initially, are pitted against one another.  I'm trying to accomplish this same thing in the novel I'm currently writing, so I loved seeing that in this book.  Nat and Wes begin with conflicting goals.  Throughout the story, though, these goals change and shift, and they find themselves on the same side, and their relationship morphs and develops as the story progresses.

Both Nat and Wes were such dynamic characters.  I loved Nat's backstory, her hidden secrets, her courage and resilience, and everything about her.  I loved the way Wes protected his crew, his calloused strength, the way he was unsure of everything.  I liked how they clashed and conflicted with one another, but also how they complemented each other.  The relationship between them never felt forced--it felt natural, like there was no other possible way their story could have turned out.    

Plot: ***** 
Nobody told this was a ship book.  I love ship books.  As in, books in which a significant portion of the plot is spent while on a ship.  NatWes, as I now dub this ship, is on a ship.  And I'm going to leave that comment right there without going further. Anyway, nobody told me that this book had dragons at the end, either.  Even without these two things, though, the plot was awesome.  The book started out, as mentioned above, with Wes and Nat at odds with one another, which made for marvelous conflict.  The entire time, I was kept engaged in the story--I was never once bored.  The plot kept me turning pages, and it was different from your typical "Help, help, I'm being repressed!" let's-take-down-the-totalitarian-government dystopian novel. Instead, it focused on other things. It was much more quest-y than dystopian novels typically are, which I liked. I loved the elements of magic, and how they played into the plot as a whole.

Uniqueness: ***** 
I feel like I'm repeating myself over and over.  I'll say it again, though--it's about time someone wrote a dystopian novel where the world has gotten colder instead of warmer.  Also, it's refreshing to read a futuristic story that doesn't involve trying to take down a repressive government.  The novel is an interesting and awesome mix of fantasy and dystopian elements, which makes for a unique and fresh read.

Writing: ****
I really appreciated the distinction between the two point of views.  This book is told by two different narrators, Nat and Wes.  In each of their separate chapters, it was easy to tell who was narrating.  Their voices were different, and that really shone through.  It made the characters stand out even more than they already did.  Overall, the writing did a good job of telling the story without distracting me or giving me unnecessary reminders of the authors' presence.

Likes: The zombies in this book are called "thrillers". Also, there's an Imagine Dragons* quote at the beginning of this book.

Not-so-great: Nothing not already mentioned.

Overall: Overall, this was an awesome book.  Nat and Wes (I just typed Nes and Wat...) are both equally dynamic, interesting, and lovable characters who contrast and complement one another nicely.  The plot is different and engaging.  It's nice to read about a dystopian setting affected by cooling, not global warming.  Each point of view voice was distinct, and I never had a doubt as to who was narrating any particular chapter.  If all of that praise wasn't enough, this book includes a dystopian naval battle.  With dragons.  Need I say more?

Similar Books: It's a dystopian novel split between two point of views that initially are in conflict with one another, like Legend and Proxy.  It is in the same vein as dystopian novels like Under The Never Sky and Shatter Me

*After two failed attempts to get tickets, a friend and I have finally secured ourselves a spot at an Imagine Dragons concert in March.  And I'm excited.  It's going to be awesome.
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