{Review} FROZEN by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

B O O K   T R A I L E R:

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

  THEY WERE COMING FOR HER. SHE could hear their heavy footsteps echoing in the concrete hallway. In a way, the sound was a relief. For days upon days she had been left in the room, alone, in total silence, with little food and water, the weight of solitude becoming ever more oppressive, the silence a heaviness that she could not shake, punishment for refusing to do as she was told, punishment for being what she was.
  She had forgotten how many days, how many months, she had been left here, alone with only her thoughts for company.
  But not quite alone.
  I warned you about waiting, rumbled the voice in her head. The voice that she heard in her dreams, whose words echoed like thunder, thunder and ash, smoke and flame. When it spoke, she saw a beast through the inferno, carrying her aloft on black wings through dark skies as it rained fire upon its enemies. The fire that raged within her. The fire that destroyed and consumed. The fire that would destroy and consume her if she let it.
  Her destiny. A destiny of rage and ruin.
(page 1, US Hardcover edition)

"The world was irretrievably broken, filled with refuse, from Garbage Country to the poisoned oceans, and the rest was an uninhabitable frozen nether land; what kind of place was this to grow up in? What kind of world had they been born into?"


Do you like atmospheric reads? I do! I've been waiting two years to begin reading the Heart of Dread series by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston. I was never home when it was snowing, or I was in the middle of something, or I was on a blog tour deadline or....SOMETHING. There was always SOMETHING. I've been a fan of atmospheric reads ever since accidentally reading THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab on an extremely windy day, and it added to my experience. When I was snowed in this past weekend during Winter Storm Jonas, Heart of Dread was my series of choice. I finished FROZEN with in a day, and am currently a good chunk of the way into the sequel, STOLEN. I'm excited that the final book in the trilogy, GOLDEN, comes out in April, so I don't have long to wait for a conclusion!

FROZEN is set in a chilly future where life as we know it has been destroyed and re-built as the RSA (Remaining States of America). There is nothing but snow and ice. Deserts and warmth are things of imagination. Genuine salt, natural water, and real meat cost a fortune. Nat lives in New Vegas, hiding from the government that captured her due to her dangerous abilities. Ever since the world changed, creatures such as humans with strange marks and mystical abilities--like Nat. Creatures such as sylth, smallmen, drau, thrillers...dangerous, deadly, beautiful, mythical creatures. There is a rumor that a place exists called the Blue, and that if you find this nirvana, you'll find green lands, warm days, and fresh water. Nat finds a stone containing a map to the Blue and hires a runner named Wes to sneak her out of the borders and across the sea. Wes, on the other hand, knows that Nat has the map and that if he can steal it and sell it to the highest bidder, he'll be set for life and his team will never go hungry again. Both Nat and Wes go into their deal planning to double-cross and manipulate one another, but find that they'll need to work together if they want to survive the dangerous journey lying ahead of them.

I've never read Melissa de la Cruz's well-known series Blue Bloods or Witches of East End, but I have read her historical fantasy THE RING AND THE CROWN and her Disney Descendants runaway middle-grade bestseller ISLE OF THE LOST. So far, the Heart of Dread series is my favorite read by her. I love the fast pace, the action, the romance, the intrigue, the FANTASY. I can't tell you how this series correlates to her other books, but I went into this with no expectations and  it was enjoyable to me! I really liked the dark future that the series is building, as well as the hint to change. I like the grittiness and the feeling that nowhere is safe. I liked discovering the fantasy creatures that have been given life with the world as we currently know it ending. Melissa de la Cruz takes the sometimes overdone post apocalyptic world sub-genre and twists it in new ways that always feel interesting. The series does take a while to get going, but once it does, it's hard to put down, and I immediately wanted to dive into the sequel and see what was up with our characters! I'm also excited to see what new mythology she'll bring into the series!

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( kissing )
Language:  PG13 ( There's a little bit of sexual discussion, such as the fact that couples can apply for day-long marriage passes if they want to go to a hotel together as opposed to a full-on marriage; there are a few innuendo asides from various supporting characters, but nothing avert. At one point, Nat and Wes do sleep in the same small bed on their ship, but nothing happens )
Violence: PG13 ( Non-graphic, but there are a lot of fight scenes, as well as a war scene. There is also a torture scene with slave traders. )
Other: PG ( Slave traders patrol the waters looking for people escaping to return them home or sell them to the market as food or workers )
C O V E R   D E S I G N: 

I really like the current paperback  cover!

The original hardcover cover looked like:

The new one is so much more fantasy oriented, don't you think?

The new covers are also REALLY shiny.

Look at the original hardcover side-by-side with the hardcover:

See how my camera is catching the shimmering light off of the sequel, STOLEN, while the first book, FROZEN, has more of a matte look?

I do like that they kept the cool circling dragon logo on both books. 

With the original cover, that was really the only hint at fantasy you got. I might have overlooked this on the shelves!

The new covers, however, are awesome and zing you with some adrenaline! DRAGONS. There are DRAGONS on the cover.

Doesn't it make you want to know more!?

I love how bright and shiny the new covers are, and how the new cover on book one is  a blue that still emulates a cold environment meant to give you goosebumps!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers  / Penguin
Received: For Review

From New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston comes this remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic.

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.