Review: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

, by Kt Clapsadl

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

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.

In a world covered in ice where resources are limited, society is severely controlled, and the magically marked are hunted down like animals, just surviving each day is a great accomplishment. Nat knows this more than most as she is one of the marked. After escaping from a facility built to use her and others like herself, she'll do just about anything to find a way out, including paying a rough and tough crew of Mercs to get her out of the city. She's searching for the Blue, something the captain of the Merc crew knows has cost many lives in the pursuit. But there's something about Nat that he can't turn down, and the two become quickly drawn to one another. In a hard world and secrets abound, can they over come the obstacles between them?

I'll admit that the world building left me scratching my head at times, but that could largely be due to there being so much going on at once. You have a post-apocalyptic setting, with a dystopian government in power, along with magically marked people reminiscent of the fae, and a mythical world that is supposed to border alongside ours. Don't get me wrong, all of these elements definitely kept things interesting, but I still felt like things weren't fully developed to their potential. The entire time I was reading, I just wanted to know more about the story, but answers were very slow coming, and many things weren't revealed at all. Granted this is a series and you want some mystery there, but I really think a little more depth spent on some things would have gone a long way.

I really really wanted to get into the romance in FROZEN, but no matter how hard I tried it just wasn't working. Everything between Nat and Wes felt rather stilted and I just couldn't get swooped up into their interactions. Since I'm such a romance driven person with my reading choices, I have to admit that this was largely frustrating to me. It's not like there wasn't opportunities for things to take off between, but unfortunately things just stayed rather flat. There was no spark nor excitement, so there wasn't anything to draw the reader into their relationship. It's not that things were to slow moving or anything, it's just that you could tell that they were supposed to have this deep connection by the end, but it was never shown, only told.

I realize that I have largely expressed frustrations with this book, but it is important to note that I was pretty well hooked from the start. Sure things didn't go quite as I would have liked, especially in the romance department but the story more than held my attention and never once dragged. Because of this and my wanting to know what happens after that ending, I can see myself picking up the next installment. So when it boils down to it, ignoring a few bumps along the way, FROZEN is an entertaining read that serves as a good set up for an interesting new series.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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