Thursday, December 13, 2012

ARC Book Review: Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep

Title: Crimson Frost
Author: Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: December 24, 2012
Rating: 2/5

Cover Impressions:
This cover is kind of boring.  We have Gwen's often mentioned violet eyes as a focal point but I am not a fan of the dragon? Griffin? in the background.  I am also annoyed by the portrayal of her snowflake necklace.  The description in the book is of a delicate diamond tipped snowflake - yet the one in the cover image looks like it was picked up at the dollar store. 

The Gist: 
Still reeling from the escape of Loki and Gwen's brush with death at the hands of his reapers, her safe haven at Mythos Academy is shattered by the appearance of the Protectorate.  Suddenly Gwen is being accused of the unthinkable and she must defend herself or face execution. 


I read Crimson Frost right on the heels of finishing the first three books in this series.  In the beginning, I cut Gwen quite a bit of slack.  In series like these you often find a deeply flawed (and often annoying) main character whose experiences force her to grow as a person and gain some confidence in her abilities.  However, Gwen just seemed to get more irritating as the books continued.  I kept wanting her to grow up a little, but she never does.  She is unable to piece together even the most obvious of clues and spends a lot of the book whining about her circumstances.  She never stands up for her self and is incredibly self-centered.  The other characters serve only to rescue Gwen, or to listen to her moan.  Despite including several interesting mythologies, the only characters we really get to see in action are Spartans, Valkyries and, occasionally, Amazons.  Why even bother mentioning the other types of warriors if you never plan to use them?

The plot itself is very predictable - partly because Gwen has to be beaten over the head with multiple clues before she will clue in to what is going on.  I often found myself skimming pages because I had already figured out the plot twists and was waiting for Gwen to catch up.  The action also ground to a halt every time that we came into contact with one of the villains.  They seemed to all be suffering from some strange compulsion to spend pages explaining plans and facts that the reader has already figured out.  It is almost like a satire of every action movie where the villain takes an inordinate amount of time to reveal every detail of his nefarious plot - except in the Mythos Academy novels, it isn't funny.  

The first half of this book was dull and frustrating.  Jennifer Estep is the queen of the re-cap.  She feels the need to repeat (often in a very close to copy - paste fashion) nearly every detail from every book.  I know what you are saying: but recapping is great for those who don't read the series back to back and yes, I agree.  However, the repetition that bothers me is of innocuous points that do nothing to further the storyline.  For example, in every single book she feels the need to remind me that the library is more hangout that place of work and that students go there to hook up, even going so far as to remind the reader that Gwen regularly finds condoms in the stacks.  I DID NOT NEED TO READ THAT FOUR TIMES!

All of that being said, I think that I am mostly upset by this book because it has so much potential.  The world that Estep has created is unique and interesting.  I love novels that re-work and combine different mythologies.  I enjoyed the side characters whenever they got a (brief) moment in the spotlight and sometimes found myself longing for the series to follow Daphne instead of Gwen.  I also keep getting the feeling that this series is being stretched too thin.  It could have been well developed and wrapped up within three or four books but, based on the plot progression thus far, is more likely to take nine or ten.  Unfortunately, I think I will be getting off on this stop - that is, unless the next book promises more Logan and Daphne, less Gwen and some closure on a few underlying issues.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

16 and up
Gender: Female
Sex: Kissing, talk of hooking up/sex
Violence: Swordplay, lots of death
Inappropriate Language: Whore, Slut, Bitch, Pissed, Ass
Substance Use/Abuse: underage drinking, talk of marijuana use.


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