Monday, July 28, 2014

Heart of Dread: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz

Howdy Bookdictives, I'm back from my book break! After a slew of mediocre books, I took some well-deserved time off. I knew I was out of my slump when, all of the sudden, I decided to read not one, but two books over the course of four days.
The first book I read was the one that took me three out of those four days. Normally, you'd think a reviewer would want to avoid reviewing books they've rated at one- or two-stars on their blogs (as opposed to GR), but I'm not like most reviewers! 

Last month, I had a one-star NA that I only talked about on GR, but now I bring to you...my first one-star YA of the summer! 


Book: Heart of Dread: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston
Rating: 1/5 stars
Bookdictive Categorization: Utter crap.


Okay first off: Hola, mucho confusing title. Every time I went to pick up my Kindle, I would think, "Heart of...Frozen...Frozen Heart?" and then that song from Frozen would start playing in my head.
Fun story: I used to joke this was the best song on the soundtrack and now it's the ringtone that plays when I call one of my bff's on her cell. Frozen Heart>>>>Let it Go amirite?

But no, it's Heart of Dread, which I guess is the name of the series; book the first being Frozen. Now that we've cleared that up, on to the story! 
Right away we get this really confusing flashback of the MC, named nat in my really awful mobi version (unless she actually goes by nat, not Nat. Seriously, was this thing edited????) escaping from some sort of facility/mental asylum/dystopian testing center. Eventually she decides to hire Wes the Mercenary and his ragtag group of street rat ex-military teenagers to get her to the Blue, the mysterious fabled land where the sky is blue and there's birds.
Okay, some confusion is to be expected. But after processing this, I thought back to Chapter One, with its barrage of lingo, terms, and acronyms. I, who have read all of the Song of Ice and Fire books, couldn't keep up with everything. It was like because of the two genres, de la Cruz kept tennis balling back and forth between them. But this isn't ASoIaF, and you don't have 1,000+ pages to learn the lingo. So two chapters in, you've gotten: 
"Mages' marks...the marked children could do things--read minds, make things move without touching them, sometimes even predict the future. Enchanters, they were called, warlocks, "lockheads" and "chanters" in the popular slang." Never mind that you don't hear those terms again, because it's not important apparently. Then, down the page, even though they were mentioned in the first five pages with no explanation: "...sylphs, a race of beings of luminous beauty and awesome power."
There's also some "smallmen" which is a nice term for ice midgets. BUT BACK TO THE STORY, because none of these mysterious peeps that came out of the poorly-explained ice, caused by the Big Freeze (sounds like a delicious frozen dessert) are really featured again, if at all.
In fact, here's some more examples of things-that-aren't-important-but-are-somehow-vital-to-the-story-and-yet-almost-never-talked-about-again, plus just general inaccuracies:
-Textlish, which is introduced in this great sentence, "...textlish--which had been compared to Egyptian hieroglyphics by bygone intellectuals and academics--had been invented by a couple of kids with their handhelds before the Big Freeze. The latest rBes, or "reading-Based entertainment," were all composed in textlish." I'm sorry, what? rBes? How is that even pronounced?
-The money system, called watts, or credits if the author chooses. Mentioned only as either ransom money (10,000 watts) or measly amounts like one watt, these don't serve much of a purpose because this world is deprived of natural resources and yet somehow, people find money to gamble in New Vegas. And apparently, they're made of platinum. Because a monetary system made of platinum in a frozen dystopic world makes sense. 
-The time when Nat dresses up as a rich trophy wife "with the help of a video blog and a few silver coins from Wes' stash" called a tai tai so she can single-handedly enter into a high-stakes poker game in K-Town (which I'm pretty sure stands for Korean-Town, which has taken over what was once L.A. I guess) to win back Wes' fastest ship in the galaxy land. Which of course she does, all in the matter of a couple pages. 
-The military not knowing how to upgrade any sort of system, just maintain it. Okay. 
-Nat finally having this random flashback about wanting to kill one of Wes' mercenary friends, sparking a memory of her three year old self wanting to kill a neighbor's mean kid. But move along, it's really not important. 
-How a guy who turns out to be a traitor but he's just a young boy like the rest in this godforsaken world so cut him some slack ends up dying and no words on his behalf are said. Nat describes the scene when he dies at the hands of some friendly-yet-deadly sea monster-dragon, "Daran was one of their team, but there had been no words spoken...no blessings, but then, perhaps he had not been worthy of any. The dead couple had given their lives for their friends, but Daran would only have brought death to his team." SORRY, didn't realize that there is only black and white, and that the value of a human life is only who has helped who, and who hasn't. 
SCREW COMPASSION, THIS IS FROZEN!
-The giant reveal of the giant secret that none of us knew Nat had about Wes' long-lost twin sister until a few pages before. I have to write the whole exchange because it's just one quick, confusing paragraph: 
""...our specialty was people." He clenched his jaw and tossed his cards to the floor. "No. No. Don't tell me that. You had nothing to do with Eliza!" "I'm a monster...I...hurt people...your sister..." He shook his head, tears coming to his eyes. "Your sister is dead, Wes. Because of me. I killed her." "No!" "The night you described, the fire that came from nowhere, the fact that there were no remains...oh god, Wes, the things I used to do...the things they made me do...the things I can do..." "no, Nat, no! You had nothing to do with that!" He took her hands in his fists. "Look at me. Listen to me! It wasn't you. You had nothing to do with that!"" This is all within the last 18% of the book. I read that whole exchange THREE TIMES because I couldn't make sense of it. But Nat is the most special snowflake in Frozen and so of COURSE there's blind acceptance of her past because Wes loves Nat even though he's consumed with the loss of Eliza, the girl more important than ANYTHING else in this awful, trash-filled frozen world of bleakness and despair.
-The epic ending that all the other reviewers seemed to think was "exciting" and "suspensful " and "thrilling" and blah blah IT LASTS FOR FIVE PAGES WITH ALMOST NO DETAIL!!!!! I don't get it! I FINISHED THIS BOOK. I DESERVE A BETTER END BATTLE. Not this random dragon that appears out of the ocean, which I'm forced to accept is actually Nat in dragon form (wth????). The dragon that can talk to her, tells her that she has this bogus long-lost name that she "knew about all along" because even though she never had any idea she had this connection, she's a mage so WHO CARES! IT IS THEREFORE IMPORTANT!

At the end of my notes, I wrote this, and still stand by it: I just don't know what this book is about. Obviously I see the themes, but now, at the end, suddenly it's about dragons? What happened to all the hype about the Blue? There's never any backstory in this. Why are things a certain way, but then reason is shrugged off and Nat is suddenly able to fly, etc. Where's the timeline of events? I have no clue how the Blue can be discovered, but then it not be important, and then Wes leaves Nat there (a thinly veiled way to set up Book Two), all within less than a page.  

This book was so terrible. I really loved de la Cruz's Blue Bloods, which came out right after Twilight and I reread almost as many times in 2007. I read the Ring and the Crown, which fantastic but was decent. I even read The Ashleys, her book series that read like Gossip Girl but for middle schoolers. Melissa de la Cruz has proven that she CAN do PNR, but what she's really talented at is the type of removed, omnipotent voice that is prevalent in series like Gossip Girl and the A-List. With no jewels, opulence, and teenaged drama to focus on (even the Ring and the Crown had it, and that was historical fiction!), her writing is just...bland. Her plot falls to pieces. It's like she saw Disney's Frozen, decided that dystopia is hot right now, but didn't care enough about her characters or her world-building to devote the time and energy to it. That's where I think the random bits of fantasy come in. Like she just said "whatever" and published this mess because she wanted another book on the shelves. Read her other works, but don't read this one. 

***a galley of this was sent to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and in no way reflects the views of the publisher or author***

5 comments :

Val Langlois said...

hahaah I remember seeing this book on Netgalley, and thinking, "what, is this Frozen?" This title is definitely confusing, and then the book itself doesn't seem that satisfying. I'm sorry you didn't like it!

Mollie Leigh @ Bookdictive Reviews said...

Hey Val! What's super confusing to me is the amount of five star reviews on GR. I can't tell if it's just people trying to please a big author, or people not actually reading it and rewriting the synopsis. Either way, this book does NOT deserve that high of a rating!

Kaitlin Snider said...

I'm glad this isn't the first Melissa de la Cruz book you read! You already know that she is capable of writing great books, even though this one turned out to be terrible for you.

Mollie Leigh @ Bookdictive Reviews said...

Thank you Kaitlin! I saw on GR that a lot of people were saying that she's a bad author all around, but I disagree. I think, for when she wrote the first Blue Bloods and all that was going on in YA lit (not a ton), she really can hold her own. This one though...lets pretend it never happened. ;)

Game Of War said...

Keep up the exceptional work !! Lovin' it!

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