Book Review – Frozen

Author: Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston
Series: Heart of Dread
Genres: Dystopia, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Release Date: 2nd October 2014
Publishers: Orchard Books
No. Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley
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 was a well-paced novel with a promising plot line and diverse characters. However, the book took a turn for the worst during the second half. The characters went from interesting and likeable to stale and boring, but the poor, or lack off, character development throughout was not the only problem with this book.

The story gripped my attention from the first chapter as we were introduced to lead female protagonist, Natasha “Nat” Kestal, a blackjack dealer with a dangerous secret.  My interested further grew when we met Ryan “Wes” Wesson, a former soldier with a mysterious dark past, and his crew of mercenaries. As Wes’ crew accepted the task to break Nat out of New Vegas to find the mysterious blue, the only island that was not covered in ice, I found myself eager to find out what would happen next. However, the book entered a downwards spiral.

The lack of description and explanation within this book was what I believe to be its greatest weakness. De la Cruz and Johnston relied heavily on info dumping, which decreased the enjoyment and left me confused through most of the story, only for everything to suddenly be explained. There was little to no description of the frozen wasteland that was the main setting of the first half of the book, which made it difficult for me to visualise the story.  The change in point of views was also poorly executed. The book would change from Nat’s point of view to Wes’ for only a couple of sentences and so it would often become difficult to distinguish between the two.

The story only got worse, when otherwise impossible situations were instantly solved by new characters. Every problem these characters faced was rectified almost instantly. It felt to me that these problems were created simply for something to be happening and it left me bored for most of the second half. The fast paced ending lead to more info dumping, which rather than redeeming the ship wreck that was the second half, only caused me to feel relief that I had finally finished.

The Romance between Nat and Wes was a constant back and forth. The two characters were instantly attracted to each other, however, they spent a good portion of the first half developing a friendship and a connection so the romance did not feel rushed.  As the second half began it became a horrible game of ‘I love you’ ‘I love you not’, which quickly became annoying and predictable.

Despite the mountains of problems, I found myself enjoying the story for the most part. This book had a good plot, ignoring the few plot holes, and some adjustments would cause a great improvement to the first instalment in the heart of dread series.



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