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Monday, August 11, 2014

Victoria Reviews: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

The inside cover description portrays Frozen as a Vegas-esque romp through a nearly destroyed future with hints of magic and darkness lurking around every corner. As exciting as that sounds, thankfully the book is quite a bit more than that. The setting is frozen both literally and figuratively: everything in the world not covered by ice and snow is toxic waste, and passage between civilizations is either highly regulated or impossible. Society is frozen in its current state, with the rich and privileged spending all their time gambling while the lower classes struggle to survive in such a toxic environment. The government has as tight a control as it can manage on the world, and those trying to slip under the radar are usually caught and quickly executed.

Amidst the militaristic rule and dog-eat-dog population comes a surprisingly old-fashioned tale. Arrogant good guy meets independent, no-nonsense girl, and what results is a toxic seas adventure more like Pirates of the Caribbean than a Las Vegas thriller.

This pirate adventure may sound like it couldn’t possibly fit in with the futuristic Vegas that the book paints as its setting, but the interesting thing is that it actually does; the two seemingly opposing ideas flow together quite naturally, even when you throw in a bit of sorcery and a promised land of the kind Wendy Darling could only dream of.

The characters manage to hold their own despite the mixed setting. Nat and Wes are strong people, capable of handling just about anything that comes their way. But at the end of the day you’re reminded that, despite their ingenuity and intelligence, these are only two teenagers making the best of the cruel world in which they are stuck. Hope and a refusal to give up are sometimes the only things giving them the strength to keep moving.

All in all, I must admit that while I started this book with my expectations closer to the floor than the ceiling, I was rather impressed at the way de la Cruz and Johnston managed to seamlessly stitch together so many vastly different pieces to create a complete and compelling story. I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy and dystopian stories, as this is a bit of both. Frozen is the first book in the Heart of Dread series, and I'm sure the next book will be just as fantastic and surprising as this one!

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