Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 14th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
So…this novel has a very high average rating on Goodreads and reviewers who’s opinion I trust loved it, so I was confident I would too. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. To be honest, I’m feeling conflicted between what I actually felt and what I think I should feel based on all the glowing reviews. Snow Like Ashes isn’t a terrible book but I failed to see what everyone else thought was so great about it. In fact, it started out okay and I thought that if I kept reading there would be a huge twist and suddenly it would turn from mediocre and predictable to intriguing. This didn’t happen.
I’ll start with the few positives:
– Meira, the protagonist. Meira was a good protagonist, she is a kick-ass (in a believable way), strong, passionate and fiercely loyal to her country. She is relatable and I could understand the things she felt, they seemed natural and although Meira was very stubborn and quite childish at times, she wasn’t overly whiny which I appreciated.
– The “magic-system”: I wouldn’t go as far as saying that this novel has a real detailed magic-system, but Sara Raasch really did think about how the magic works, what the consequences of this magic are and what it means for the different characters.
So now onto the things that bothered me (I apologize in advance if this turns into a bit of a rant):
– First and foremost, the plot was incredibly predictable. I pretty much knew what was going to happen 50 pages into the book. There was nothing unexpected, no surprising twists, nothing that made me gasp. Basically, the plot was just very underwhelming and not intricate enough for my taste.
– The world-building: There was an abundance of info-dumps that were constantly repeated over and over. Furthermore, the concept was wholly unoriginal, with Primoria consisting of four Season Kingdoms – Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn – and four Rhythm kingdoms, each with their individual characteristics and customs. We didn’t really get any explanation as to why the kingdoms were split up that way. Also, I thought the fact that the cities were named after months of the year (e.g. Abril, October) was a bit ridiculous.
– The romance: This book contains a love triangle and it is BAD. I felt nothing for either guy, one of the relationships was leaning heavily on the side of insta-love and it just added unnecessary drama and bogged down the story. This is one of those cases where the triangle truly feels like something that was put in just for the sake of being there and as a marketing strategy. Both Mather and Theron were way too perfect. They literally had no flaws, were both gorgeous beyond comprehension, smart, kind, considerate etc. Not to mention that they were so similar that they blended together in my mind. The one beacon of light concerning the romance is that at least the book wasn’t just about Meira having to choose between the two.
– The pacing: I find it very difficult to explain why the pacing doesn’t work for me sometimes, but here it was simply strange. The entire novel had a very episodic feel to it, first we are here, than there, than there. The transitions weren’t smooth and thus the story seemed a bit chopped. My main problem however, was all the internal monologue. I liked Meira, but her thoughts were SO repetitive. After a while I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I understand that this novel is about a young girl trying to find her identity and place in the world, but there was no subtlety whatsoever. Meira had to spell every single thing out to us all the time instead of letting the reader conclude things for herself/himself.
– Some scenes seemed very unrealistic to me. It just seemed too convenient and certain problems were solved way too easily. How Meira escapes certain situations? I had a serious problem suspending my disbelief. There was a lot of eye-rolling on my part and I kept thinking “Yeah, right. As if such a villain would ever be that stupid”.
– Another thing that bothered me was that the story painted everything too black and white. At first, I was very excited because the novel tackles corruption and selfishness in rulers and I thought that this theme would be taken further throughout the novel. This didn’t happen. The Winterians were all good, the people of Spring were all evil (yes, there is an explanation for this but it still bothered me), and Angra seemed too much of a cardboard cut-out villain.
– Lastly, I thought that the writing, although solid in general, got a little grating over time. There were a lot of word repetitions (e.g. “snuffed out”) and some of the metaphors seemed really forced. Also, as I already mentioned above, lots of info-dumps.
Phew, okay. As I said, this wasn’t a horrible book and if you adored Throne of Glass and/or The Kiss of Deception then there is good chance you’ll enjoy this book as well. Personally however, it didn’t live up to my expectations. I don’t plan on picking up the second instalment.