Authors: Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston
Release: September 17th 2013
#1 in the Heart of Dread trilogy
Sequels: Stolen (#2), Golden (#3)
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.
Look at that cover, just look at it. I think this is most definitely one of the absolute most beautiful covers I have ever ever seen in my entire life. I simply had to have this.
Now, I'll start off saying that I haven't read any Melissa de la Cruz book before, not the Blue Bloods series and not her Witches of East End series. Nor anything from Michael Johnston, although I take it he's Melissa's husband and this is basically his "debut" novel.
I have to say, I'm more than a little disappointed. I would take it that after having published a shitton of novels, and I know that her Blue Bloods series is even quite successful, that you would know the drill: how to characterize so your character are actually interesting, how to include climaxes, blah blah blah, all that. She doesn't, though, apparently, nor does her husband.
I'll start off by saying this really was not bad. It was simply very shallow in the means of "a very quick and light read", I didn't become invested to the characters nor the story. There was nothing really gripping about Frozen. After having finished it, all I can say is: nice. The only thing that rises above the mediocre mark is the world-building which was excellent, I have to admit. I liked the whole post-apocalypse (kind of) aspect with the magical elements built into it and the whole new society. However, there could have been a little more development there, too. How did it come to the whole ice age thing? Why? What went wrong? How does this Blue thing work? etc etc there were a lot of unanswered questions and it took a bit of wind out of the sails, because the world actually piqued my interest.
The characters were tolerable, but nothing more. Wes was the standard cutout of "cocky, handsome and selfless", always sacrificing his own safety for the safety of the others which was sooooo heroic and nice of him! Oh, wow I'm really impressed at his constant bravery... Nat really was, though. Because she was in dire need of them, always playing the damsel in distress and having to be saved. It was the one thing that really put me off, because I think otherwise I could have really liked Nat. Any side characters, you name them, Shakes, Liannan, Daran — they were extras. Expendable. No one important, and no characterization to match.
The love story was sappy and unrealistic. There's the well known insta-love spark going on between them and I can't tell you how many times one or the other had a monologue about how their fling was only flirtatious and meant to create false trust between them, they could not fall for each other under any circumstances, because, well, it wouldn't be convenient. Until the last twenty pages, when it was revealed who Nat really is, there wasn't any reason for them not to be together. It was a phantom excuse that didn't make sense for the reader up until then and simply made those monologues pretentious, melodramatic and eyeroll-inducing. Besides the question of why they can't be together, I don't know why they would be together. They don't complement each other in any important way or give each other strength, anything. They didn't do shit for each other's characters and it simply seemed like a silly teenage crush because "the other is so pretty and good-looking I have to go out with them."
Furthermore, the story was extremely anti-climactic, especially the end. I don't ... what was what even? It was revealed who Nat was, who was, granted, not the thing I expected (I expected the authors to pull a Cassandra Clare and reveal that Nat is actually Wes's dead twin sister (she's not)) but it was still very ... I don't know, it just was like, "Okay here's who she is, now she's going to do that, and then it's going to be over." Then she actually dies, and one page, I shit you not, one page later, she wakes up and Wes teases her. What? What? Why would you try to create a suspenseful moment, having one of your main characters die, just to play it down like that? It was so ridiculous it made me really angry. And things like that happened SO OFTEN it wasn't funny anymore.
All in all... well, it's a bit like Spellbound. I liked it and I was enjoying it enough to want to read on, but there were also some times where I was simply annoyed. More times than in Spellbound, which is why it has one half star less. Otherwise: mediocre plot, mediocre characters, nice world-building but, again, not explained enough. There could be more to that. I see a lot of potential, so I think I'll continue on with the series, but I'm not selling my soul to get the sequel.