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Book Reviews

Review: “Frostbite,” Richelle Mead

July 14, 2013
Review: “Frostbite,” Richelle MeadFrostbite (Vampire Academy #2)
Written by Richelle Mead
Published April, 2008 by Razorbill
327 pages
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Vampires
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three-stars

Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose…

It’s winter break at St. Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians—including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks… This year, St. Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price…

The second installment of Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series, Frostbite, was quite an easy read at just over 300 pages long. I can’t say that I enjoyed it immensely – I’ll get to why later – but I didn’t hate it, either, which is good considering there are another four books in the series.

I think those that liked the first book will continue to adore Frostbite. One of the major flaws for me with this book was that it offered much of the same. Too much. I felt that Rose hadn’t grown as a character after her ordeal in Vampire Academy, and if anything, her ‘bff’ relationship with Lissa was even more watered down the second time around. I find it hard to believe that she’d die for Lissa so certainly and swiftly – the two hardly seem to talk these days. I wish Rose and Lissa’s relationship would convey the depth we’re meant to believe as readers. I want to see that passion of friendship between them. All we seem to be getting at the moment is polite discussion and miscommunication. Sure, Rose is worried about upsetting Lissa by divulging her problems, but isn’t that what friendship is all about? Sharing? And to me, Lissa and Rose’s friendship is the driving point of this series – that base element of friendship needs to be evident.

I guess this is what annoys me the most in this series thus far. The lack of ‘connection’ between what is meant to be the most iconic aspect of Richelle Mead’s series. Rose and Lissa hardly even hang out, and when they do they are each too busy hiding their problems from one another to actually do any real bonding.

Frostbite, as far as plot is concerned, begins with a bang – a massacre of Moroi royalty by a rogue band of Strigoi right on Rose’s first day of evaluation! – but continues with a steady stream of school-day woes and, without being harsh, not-so-memorable events. Up in arms about what to do, St. Vladimir’s declares the school should retreat to a five-star luxury ski resort after Christmas, where the Moroi population can gather as one and be safe from the Strigoi that are still on the hunt for royal blood.

Here we meet a new character, Adrian Ivashkov, another member of Moroi royalty and presumably another love interest down the line for Rose. I wanted to fall in love with him, really, but he fell into the mould of the ‘cliche YA bad boy’ who has a snarky line for every hour of the day and likes to hide in shadowed corners, sizing up our female leads.

The twist concerning Adrian and his motives was blatantly obvious. I know from other fans and reviews that he becomes one of the central characters of the series, so I’m holding out hope that he brings something unique and exciting to the table down the line.

I don’t really know what to call it – shall we call it ‘the obviousness’? – of the plot twists and story direction was the other main thing that has irked me since beginning the Vampire Academy series. It irritates me when our supposed ‘kick-ass’ heroine is miles behind the reader in realising facts that are thrown out before her, and then has to explain it to the already enlightened (us) in the most inappropriate scenarios. I don’t want to hear all about your sudden realisation as you’re facing down the Strigoi!

Ah, the Strigoi! Another thing I was disappointed with in Frostbite… Since reading the first book, I’ve been thinking ‘wow, these Strigoi sound so dangerous and, well, indestructable!!! What horrendous and terrifying villains!’ Well, Frostbite smashed that awe into a thousand little pieces. Unfortunately for me, the Strigoi are just like all other YA villains – they like to talk before making a kill. They like to brag. They like to showboat. I had always envisioned ‘real’ Strigoi (not counting Natalie from Vampire Academy here) to act before thinking, to be totally ravenous and blood-thirsty and completely shadow-like and merciless. The Strigoi in Frostbite cast a pretty mean shadow initially with their royal massacres… but upon meeting them…? I was less than impressed.

I’ll admit now that I was shocked by one turn of events… a death of a character I thought was going to be in the series for the long run… but that didn’t make me fear the Strigoi any more than I was after the massive let down. It was cruel, sure, but somehow the reality of Rose being able to defeat an ancient Strigoi turned any feeling I had about this death on its head. I just found the whole scenario to be pretty unbelievable. I also felt that Richelle Mead fast-forwarded a lot of the time the gang spent in captivity, which could have been useful in setting up the reader for some real brutal mind-games and instilling fear.

Now, what I DID like about this book… so far it seems like I’m putting it down… a LOT… but I did finish it and I’m about to continue on with the third, so I can assure you it held my interest at least that much. Frostbite had its good points.

Rose and Dimitri. I’m so sick of the back-and-forth ‘I can’t have you – I love you’ saga, so this was pretty infuriating to begin with, but now that something has actually been ‘resolved’ between the two, I think we’re full steam ahead to discover some new territory within their relationship. The dilemma that Frostbite presented for them; with Tasha Ozera and her desire for Dimitri to be her guardian and quite possibly her lover, was an interesting one I was keen to see the outcome of, too. I give points to Richelle for somehow making the same old Rose and Dimitri star-crossed lovers dilemma retain a little spice.

Moroi Magic. Finally. I find the whole ‘Royal Family’ and ‘Mortal Vampires’ element within these books to be one of the more interesting aspects of the series. The Moroi magic is certainly in there, too, and I’m so glad that it looks like future books will be focusing a lot more on that. I am eager to learn about the elements that Moroi can harness and how they plan to use them in economical and offensive ways. Moroi fighting back against the Strigoi? I’m eager.
Mia Rinaldi. So after the ending of Frostbite, I think I actually garnered a bit of respect for her despite being irked that her name comes directly from The Princess Diaries character. I’ve always been fond of the element of water, and after learning that Mia can wield and perhaps utilise this element in an innovative way and finally hang up her troubles with Rose and the gang, I think we’re going to get along quite… swimmingly.

There’s still a lot in my mind right now, as I’ve just put the book down, and I’m sure I can go on and on about what I liked and what I disliked and what I have forgotten… but I think I’ll cap my pen on this one for now and continue on to Shadow Kiss. Wish me luck?

Recommended to: Readers who liked the first book will enjoy Frostbite, but in hindsight I feel it’s the weakest of the series.

About Richelle Mead

Originally from Michigan, Richelle Mead now lives in Seattle, Washington where she works on her three series full-time. A life-long reader, Richelle has always loved mythology and folklore. When she can actually tear herself away from books (either reading or writing them), she enjoys bad reality TV, traveling, trying interesting cocktails, and shopping for dresses. She's a self-professed coffee addict and has a passion for all things wacky and humorous.

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