Heart of Dread Book one
Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston
dystopian fantasy, Young Adult
cover - it's pretty. There's a lot of covers out there with a girls face seemingly floating in air..but the colors are good, and the profile is pretty. This one is floating in water. And let's face it. When a publisher finds a good cover, they tend to re-use them over and over in various combinations. We've all seen the UF woman with her back to us and her face cut off, then the painting like cover, and nowadays we get to at least see the model's face. It's still a good cover though - this one. It's pretty, it's eye catching, and I guess in the long run, there's going to be similar covers. Like when all the romances had flowers all over the covers, then the washboard abs, and then the girls in the floating dresses (actually that was the Y/A covers). In Frozen, the colors do make me think of cold and ice. I do like the cover.
I know I haven't read much Y/A - but in all the books I have read, from adult to Y/A, I don't think I've read anything quite like this. It isn't quite your usual SciFi, or Fantasy novel. Or Urban Fantasy. All the characters are young, people don't live very long in this new dystopian world, but in this novel we have war veterans who are only 16 years old, and that's a little hard to take in. Whatever, I didn't let that really sink in, I just kept reading...
The entire world is frozen, and there's a lot of poverty as well as excess spending in places like New Vegas. Even though there's tech, it's weird, because no one quite knows how to invent new tech, or fix things....or at least not many people do. New Vegas is fenced in - either they're keeping people in, or keeping things out. Just try leaving....
Main character - Nat - is working in New Vegas as a dealer. She's trying to stay under the radar, because she is one of the "marked" - a person born with a mark who has special powers. She's been able to work undetected for a while, kind of biding her time until suddenly the opportunity to leave, get out of New Vegas presents itself. The whole time she's been alive, she's been trying to ignore this voice in her mind that keeps trying to tell her to do these things, not always good things. It's not always bad things, more like being guided to survive at any cost.
She hires a young ex-soldier, Wes, to act as her guide to a mythical place that actually has blue skies, warmer weather, clean blue water, and is more like the old earth. No one believes this place actually exists, and yet every once in a while people try to find it. They usually come to a bad end. There are people who take advantage of those who try to leave, people who con them, people who turn them in to the government.... And Wes used to work as a soldier. He's been trying to keep a small group of other ex soldiers alive and eating, and it's tough when you don't really want to take some of the shadier jobs on offer.
Frozen tells the story of how Nat and Wes end up traveling together and touches on betrayal, friendship, slavery, danger and redemption. There's a very interesting mix of "monsters" - there are beings that seem like zombies, but aren't. There is a weird wasteland that is covered with garbage - garbage that seems to have a life of it's own. There's also the very poisoned ocean, which has toxic waters, filled with barges of towering garbage mounds that seem to have mutated. It's a wonder that people can even exist in this world.
I think de la Cruz and Johnston wrote an interesting novel with some very interesting characters, villians and monsters (or other beings). They touch a bit on slavery, slow starvation and some social issues without things seeming like you're reading a lecture or treatise on what's wrong with the world, and at the same time the issues in the book do make you think about waste and the ecology. There's also a lesson to be learned about bigotry and acceptance, with the way the government seemed to steer people into hating the marked by blaming everything bad on the people who were marked.
The dialogue was good, the narrative was good enough to keep me reading - engaging. There didn't seem to be any of those long wordy info-dumps that can make me yawn.... Bottom line - I opened the book and read it in a 24 hour period. Lately, that's been rare for me.
AND.... Though there was a budding romance with a bit of kissing, there were no over the top make out sessions. All in all, a good book for a teen, young teen, and even for an older lady like me. :)