Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon. All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.
Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.
Description taken from Goodreads.
I know the prospect of this book is exciting. I was stoked to pick it up at BEA 2016, and it was going to be one of my most anticipated novels of 2017. Now, this book has reaffirmed my decision to read all my anticipated books before featuring and promoting them. It hurts to say this, but Frostblood simply isn’t all that. There are numerous reasons why but I’ll start with the characters.
CARDBOARD CUTOUT, ONE-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS
Distinct heroines are becoming increasingly important to me. I think my reading taste is maturing as time goes on (or at least I hope it is), and I’m sick of the idea that every girl has to be like Katniss in order to be strong. I’ve touched on this before with numerous books, but the reality is that girls don’t need to be rash or bold or physically strong to be great main characters. And guys don’t need to be brooding, towering heroes or weak, wimpy nerds. There’s no either or option here. People are just people, and I had really hoped that Ruby could be more than she actually was.
But the reality was that no one stuck out in this story. I’ve seen everyone before in other books; they just go by different names and one of two hair colors (angel blonde or devil black, because apparently there’s nothing else).
And there were too many characters who were named that didn’t matter. I won’t count the fact that almost all the names in the story were ugly, but I will count that I didn’t have to care who most of the named characters were.
(I) HATE TO LOVE ROMANCE
Admittedly, I did enjoy Arcus. I thought that love/hate relationship was well done here. While I didn’t love Ruby as an individual, I thought she shined in the romance. The two of them had a very natural romance, even though the word fluttering was used way more than was necessary. Especially in the beginning and middle, the romance was fantastic. It went from hate to love well.
ACTUALLY, THE WRITING WAS GREAT
Which brings me to another point: the writing. The writing was one of my favorite parts to this story, which is rare because love for the writing usually manifests as love for the characters or love for the romance. As I shared in my early status updates on Goodreads while reading this book, Blake grabbed my attention from the beginning and proved her worth as a writer. She drew me in and made me care, even if I later grew to see that the other elements (:D) of her story were lacking.
Clearly, Elly Blake isn’t a bad writer. No matter what I say about this book, I still made it to the end. That doesn’t happen with every story. Because of this, I’d be more than willing to see what she comes out with in the future. And while we’re on that note, for the record, I want to say that my dislike of this story is coming out a lot stronger than it actually is because I’m also mad at the genre. I’m sick of these clichés that we embrace because sometimes, they work. For any aspiring authors reading this, please just write you.
PREDICTABLE, CLICHÉD PLOT
Ohhh, the plot. I hated this part the most. Someone on Goodreads noted that this sounds like every fantasy cliché smashed into one book, and that’s exactly what it is. Because I was participating in Slowathon when I read this, I annotated the book, and I was able to keep track of the predictions that I usually only keep in my head. Most of them came true, and none of the major twists surprised me. By the end of the story, I was left feeling very half-baked.
If you’re a fan of fantasy, Frostblood‘s ideas will remind you of a TON of other books, movies, and TV shows. Here’s my short brainstorming list:
- Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
- A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
- The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi
- Defy, Ignite, and Endure by Sarah B. Larson
- Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
- Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
- The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
- Court of Fives by Kate Elliot
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
A few of you reading this may think that the fact that it reminds me of these books and other media might be a good thing. It’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s just the ideas that trigger the recognition, and I’m a big believer in the idea that execution is 99% of what makes a book great (unless you’re Twilight).
One of the things that annoyed me from the beginning is that the plot isn’t character-driven. It feels like it was plotted. Random events happen to speed things along, but the pace dips throughout the book. Most of the actions are results of someone else stepping in or characters randomly deciding to do something, and that broke the magic of it all.
Also, it should be noted that the promise of the premise doesn’t show up until about halfway through the book. The blurb is more of an overarching plot line than the setup of the story.
THE WORLD-BUILDING WAS ON-POINT
I mentioned before that most times, love for the writing manifests as love for something else. If such a thing occurred within Frostblood, it was between the writing and the world-building.
Was Elly Blake’s world-building simply incredible? No. Elegantly done? Yes. Her world-building showed me, more than anything else did, how much talent she has. I want to see that talent grow. For now, it isn’t there, but her world-building was beautiful and I loved reading every word of it.
All in all? It’s not worth the almost 400 pages it takes to get through with it. There are much better, more unique stories out there. To name a few, I would definitely start with A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess. It’s a lot like this, except darker, more unique, and more engrossing. It has its own issues, but I enjoyed that one more than this. I would also recommend Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and Defy by Sarah B. Larson. Those three are the most similar to the idea of Frostblood without actually being Frostblood.