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Frost (Volume 1) Paperback – April 18, 2012
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Frost is the story of Lia, a teenage orphan taking care of her crippled twin brother and younger sister. They live on a farm near a small village in The Frost, a hostile and chilly area located somewhere near mountains and forests. Maybe Canada. I don't know.
Lia has her share of troubles. First, she has been responsible for providing for her family since her parents were brutally killed by Watchers, mysterious and vicious beasts living in the forests of The Frost.
Second, between the Watchers and the equally mysterious and slightly less vicious Farthers -- the people who live outside The Frost -- Lia lives in constant fear for her and her family's safety.
And third, she and her sister just rescued an injured Farther from the Watchers, and are hiding him in their barn.
Lia can't imagine what possessed her to help a Farther, but she finds herself reluctantly nursing him back to health. And the more she learns about him, the more questions she has about her village, her family, and the people she thought she knew.
What I Thought
Let's start with the good. Frost has a really interesting story. I like Ms. Ellison's writing style, Lia's character, and the world she lived in. I saw some of the twists coming, but some were genuinely surprising. I still have a lot of questions about exactly why the village is located in such a hostile environment as The Frost, but the groundwork was laid to get answers in future books.
And yes, there's a bit of a love story in Frost. It was sweet and mildly necessary, and pretty much what you'd expect in this genre. I liked both Lia and her guy (I'm not going to say which guy, as the beginning sets up 3 potential candidates. Don't worry though, it's definitely not the dreaded love triangle). As with pretty much all YA love stories, I thought their feelings got too deep, too fast, without much foundation. But that's probably just because I'm too far removed from being a teenager, so I have no real complaints.
The pacing in the first half of the book was great. I felt like the characters were set up well (some were a little under-developed, but then again, I'd have a hard time naming a book that doesn't rhyme with Barry Trotter where all of the characters are well-developed). The world-building was good. A lot of potentially fascinating elements were introduced to the story: the Watchers, the Farthers, why the village was located in The Frost to begin with, the death of Lia's parents, and the mysterious boy she blames for their death.
The main problem I had was in the second half. I felt like we kind of skipped most of the plot development and skipped straight to the grand finale. It felt rushed. I know I said I picked up the book because it was short, but a short book should still tell a complete story; it should just be a short story. Frost was an average-to-long story crammed into a short book.
It was like we jumped straight from the set-up to the conclusion, with no development. The characters of Ann, Cole and Adam all had significant contributions to the plot without much leading up to it, making their actions seem kind of out-of-the-blue.
In the first half of the book, Ms. Ellison does a great job with the "show, don't tell" mantra that always gets thrown around writing circles. But in the second half, everything is "tell." The big showdown at the end has absolutely nothing leading up to it, and the entire thing is explained by The Bad Guy doing some extensive monologuing, with no prompting whatsoever.
Also the ending has three -- count `em, three - dei ex machina (Yes, that is the plural for deus ex machina. Yes, I looked it up), back-to-back. I will name list them vaguely to avoid spoilers:
1) Extremely specific overheard conversation that prompts the events leading to the ending.
2) Reveal of the Bad Guy.
3) What happens to the Bad Guy.
It just seemed like there should be a better way to get to the ending without forcing it. I'm not a fan of unnecessary exposition and buildup, but this story needed more of both to really feel satisfying.
There had to be a more organic way for the same events to have taken place, but with Lia & Co. actually figuring things out on their own through subtle clues rather than having their next actions spelled out clearly by external forces. There had to be a better way to reveal who the bad guy was and what exactly he did, without just dropping him in for a point of a final confrontation. And there had to be something better to do with the character than what happened after the extensive monologuing.
It's just too fast. Too much happens in too little time. Especially when the beginning seemed like it was really going to take the time to build up some steam. Instead it barely started simmering, then it exploded.
Frost is a good story. I'll be interested in the next book in the series to see where things go. Ms. Ellison has a natural, engaging writing style that I like. I just hope that with the next book, she slows down her pacing a bit. I'd like to spend more time with these characters. Let them develop, grow, and learn. I think it would be neat.
I love YA dystopian, and I love a good story. These books have good stories but it's like they weren't written to be books or stories but were written to be a tv show. One novel reads exactly like a one hour teen drama. There really isn't anything wrong with that, it's just not my style. I found myself being frustrated while I was reading just waiting for it to open the door to my reading escape. It never happened.
I liked the storyline, and it's development. Characters were interesting , believable, and likeable ( if there is such a word). The book held my interest completely, right to the end. Ms. Ellison Is a great descriptive writer. However, events are predictable. Villains and the good guys are easy to determine. Although I liked the story, I don't think it could hold my interest through all the books. I will not continue the series because:
This was a short book, less than 200 pages, admittedly at reduced price. The remaing books in the series are only a little longer, but at a 150% price increase. The publishers are smart. They know we balk at paying full hardcover price for paperless books, so they take a 1000 page book and break it up into 4 volumes and call it a series. They charge $2 for the first and $5 for each of the remaining volumes. If you want to finish the series, the total cost becomes $17, near full price for a longer hardback book. And, there could be another in the series???
Lia is the oldest of three siblings. After their parents death she is in charge now of their farm on the outskirts of town and is incredibly stressed.
Her little sister wanders off in the woods one day and finds a foreigner (a dangerous farther) dying in the woods pretty much. She convinces lia to save him and they nurse him back to health. It is illegal to harbor these foreigners and lia does that and falls in love with him while trying to help him escape to another land where the people he is running from cannot find him.
I was disappointed in Lia and Gabes relationship. I felt like they had a few conversations and all of a sudden Lia is professing her love? I mean it was a short book so maybe that's why. It felt rushed and some of the times the author would say what Lia and Gabe talked about versus what they actually said. I feel like that takes away from getting to know a a character.
I don't know. It didn't do it for me. And the ending was unexpected but not really in a good way. I don't think I'll read the second one unless I know Gabe comes back or something and maybe not even then lol