Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake (arc)

Frostblood elly blake
Frostblood elly blake

Title: Frostblood 
Author: Elly Blake 
Series: Frostblood Saga #1 
Genre: Fantasy, YA 
Publication date: January 10, 2017 
Rating: ★★ 

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby's powers are unpredictable, and she's not sure she's willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon. All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king's tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Have you ever wondered if there is a textbook for writing young adult fantasy? A manual that lays out all the secrets of previous successes in the genre? If there were, Frostblood would get an A on its material. It’s so mainstream and uncreative that it feels as if you’ve read it all a hundred times before. It’s unremarkable, unimpressive and not something you’re going to remember. But other than that, a perfect textbook example young adult fantasy. If this is your first time reading young adult, you might even love it. But this was not my first ya book and it’s probably not yours either. Saying I’m ‘indifferent’ towards it would be an overstatement.

Frostblood tells the story of Ruby, a fireblood girl born into a country ruled by a vicious Frostblood king. Under his cruel reign, she is forced to keep her abilities hidden. Until one day someone talks and the soldiers come to take her away. They imprison her, but she manages to escape with the help of an old monk and a mysterious frost blood warrior who need her help destroying the throne. She agrees to their reckless plan en before long she is being trained to assassinate the king. 

Sigh. This could have worked. The premise isn’t very creative, but I’ve read a ton of books that ultimately handled a mainstream trope and were still very good. Somehow those books managed to distinguish themselves one way or another. This one didn’t. Everything was painfully obvious from the beginning, the writing was average at best and the characters were either annoying or just plain boring.

I couldn’t stand main character Ruby. I hated the way she acted and didn’t like the way she thought. For one, she was extremely self-absorbed and overly dramatic. Her feelings changed faster than I can switch channels on my tv, which had of course a very contradictory effect. She also felt entitled to know everyone’s darkest secrets after spending all but two minutes in their company. Especially with (mysterious frostblood warrior) Arcus. She was constantly complaining about the fact that he kept things to himself and didn’t show her his feelings, even when they were barely friends. Got to be honest here, Ruby would be the last person on this planet I’d ever share my fears and insecurities with. She was overall just very unlikable and while she is presented in the book as ‘possibly the strongest fireblood ever’ and ‘the one to save the world’, she was very unimpressive. I didn’t see the strength in her and her incredible power must have been very well hidden.

The romance was another bother. I usually really like this kind of relationship. The mysterious guy with a hint of darkness and a reluctance to share his feelings. Except that everything felt so awfully staged and typical that I had to laugh at the ridicule of it all. I could always tell exactly what was going to happen. From the moment the book started it became clear it was going to be the I dislike you so much - or maybe I don’t - no, I definitely hate you - ohmygod I’m so in love with you, don’t ever leave me approach. In that order and at about that pace. Pity. I did like Arcus, even if his secrets were very easy to guess.

I guess all of it would have been a lot better, had the writing been more compelling. But somehow it lacked the necessary spark. Things were always too ‘literal’. Everything had to be spoken, when I’m sure a lot of scenes would have benefitted from careful observations and subtle actions instead. Not everything has to be voiced. I often had to keep myself from just skimming the pages. There are no interesting subplots, no surprising twists, the magic is boring and there are no remarkable quotes or beautiful sentences. Average from the beginning until the end.

So as I said, it has all the right ingredients of a young adult fantasy but Elly Blake proves that even then, things can still go horribly wrong. Too bad, because a better author could have made this story a whole lot cleverer.

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