I have to admit I have been a bit smug lately watching and reading about all the polar vortex coverage. I previously lived in places where snow, ice, and cold is the norm, but now live in a place that’s very temperate, neither cold, nor hot. While following coverage of the polar vortex I have also been very frustrated that climate change deniers are trying to use the recent winter storms to prove that global warming isn’t real. It’s unfortunate that the term ‘global warming’ became the popular term, as really climate change is about both ends of the spectrum, both extreme heat and extreme cold events, along with increased and more intense events such as floods, hurricanes, etc.
So just when I was pondering these things, and sitting snug in my home this weekend, I started reading Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston. By an odd coincidence, it started to snow, a pretty rare event in Seattle, as I delved into a world where snow and ice have covered the planet. I was interested in this fresh take to an apocalyptic story and was prepared to like the book, but unfortunately I did not.
I think if the story had followed the expectation I had of ice being the challenge that people had to survive, I would have liked it just fine, but instead, despite the title of the book, ice seemed to be the least important element of the story, which centers around the mysterious Nan. Nan has been kept in solitary confinement by some nameless enemy, but manages to break out and make her way to New Vegas, still the center of gambling, but now a tundra of ice, not desert. She is ‘marked’ and disguises her unusual eyes with high tech contacts, so she can work as a casino dealer while she tries to figure out to get to the Blue. The Blue is said to be a place where temps are mild, trees live, the waters aren’t polluted and food is more available than what is left in most nations.
Her quest for the Blue has her throwing in her lot with Wes, leader of a group of ex-military types who now ‘freelance’ to stay fed. Everyone in the story is young, apparently people don’t live long under these conditions. The Marked are hunted by the regular people, who fear them and their special abilities. This is where the story started going off the rails for me. I find apocalyptic books about regular people dealing with cataclysmic events to be interesting enough, without adding elements of fantasy and magic. Yes, Nat is not the only special person in the story, apparently there are also sylphs, fairytype creatures, smallmen, a race of dwarves, etc. The story of escaping the military controlled Vegas and fleeing to the coast, and then sailing the poisonous waters to find the Blue would have been enough, but this book tried to cram so many elements of fantasy, magic, and even mythology (the Blue is perhaps Atlantis) that it was annoying. This was so in contrast to the recently reviewed Not a Drop to Drink which is a deceptively simple story about a future where water is extremely scarce, but is beautifully told as it relies on good storytelling, and well-written characters, not all these devices and elements picked up from every type of book. The characters in Frozen are complete caricatures, and as far as plot turns, you can see them coming a mile off, by the end I just wanted the book to sink into The Blue and be lost forever a la Atlantis.