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Frozen: Heart of Dread #1    by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston order for
by Melissa de la Cruz
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Dystopian continues to be a big genre in YA lit, but most solidly fall into the sci-fi category. Frozen, the first book in Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston's Heart of Dread series, goes the other way, landing solidly in fantasy.

After many natural disasters, the world is now covered in snow and ice. Because of the extreme temperatures, many die young, forcing teenagers to be soldiers in the constant wars. It is a hard life, but it becomes even harder for the marked, those with special abilities making them seem monsters, especially when the rot gets to them. Nat is marked and has been held captive for much of her life, until the voice in her head helps her break free.

Nat flees to New Vegas where she hides as a dealer in one of the casinos until she can save enough money to hire someone to transport her to the Blue, a fabled utopia. Many have sought the Blue only to be lost at sea, but Nat has a map, and knows she can make it there. Wes, a vet now working as a runner, is intrigued by Nat, so he agrees to her terms despite the high risk. After surpassing obstacle after obstacle, the two of them finally discover the truth about the Blue ... and Nat learns the truth about herself.

Frozen is an interesting tale simply because it is unlike any other dystopians out there. However, De La Cruz and Johnston never really made the case for their characters having to be teenagers, which hurt the story. Nat and Wes would actually work better as twenty-somethings, which is what they seemed throughout the book, except when the reader was reminded that they were teens because this is YA. Everything else, though, worked, especially how De La Cruz and Johnston let the fantasy elements creep in gradually, leading to a major reveal.

Is Frozen a ground-breaking read that begs to be picked up by everyone? Unfortunately not. Is it a fun read for teens needing to pass the time? Definitely. I am not sure what Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston have planned next for their Heart of Dread series, but I am interested enough to see where Nat and Wes's story goes.

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