Wednesday, May 6, 2015

[Review] Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

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Snow Like Ashes
Sara Raasch
[Snow Like Ashes #1]
YA Fantasy
Published: October 2014 (Balzer + Bray)
Format: Ebook Pages: 416
Source: Bought
Rating: 3 of 5
 
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.


Warning: Contains spoilers and some badly veiled ranting

Well, after all that reading, I am left feeling... kind of discontented. Everything seemed to build to this beautiful breaking point, then when the actual act of resolve happened, it was over in a breeze. It felt like it never happened. I read it a few times over, making sure I didn't miss something. But no, there was nothing more.

Firstly, the plot. A nice basis. A kingdom of Winter taken over by Spring. An orphaned girl turned queen and the venture to saving her countrymen. Nothing too elaborate. Nothing too out of the ordinary as far as fantasy novels go.

Next we have the characters. I'm just going to say that the character of Meira wasn't one of my favorites to ever be conjured by an author. Her personality seemed to fluctuate and lose parts and gain others sporadically, as if the author couldn't decide if she wanted a fierce girl or a blushing damsel. So she simply combined them when she wanted. It was a bit ridiculous. And Meira was so indecisive. She would make a life changing revelation on one page and then change her mind the next. Then she'd go into all this speak of selfishness and how she should work on that, promises of not being selfish anymore, and then going on and being completely selfish. Not exactly the kind of queen I would want. I'm not trying to be harsh, but the development could have been a bit more clear. Sir's character was the most well rounded and realistic. His struggles were clear and able to be empathized with.

Then we have the love interests. I don't mind love triangles, for the most part. But this one felt so forced. Theron was a lovely prince, very just and supportive and all around likable. I'd say he was my favorite because that's just how likable he was. But I could see how people would be able to dislike him for being so likable. There's nothing wrong with him. His only fault is that he has little interest in being king, which isn't really a fault at all. It's more of an endearing point. The other boy was Mather, the childhood friend of Meira. From the beginning her interest in him was apparent. In my opinion, it was too much, but I suppose if you have nothing to do all day other than spar with your male counterpart that happens to be your age, it's hard to not fall for him. But it would seem that the boys' personalities would warp when in each others presence to conform to the needs of the author, the same as with Meira.

Nearly every other character was bland. I didn't care about a single one of them. Not a one. Not the poor Winterians slaving away in work camps and not the group of refuges. They could have all died and I wouldn't have cared because none of them were developed to the point in which I cared.

The lore was meh. It was all unrealistic with everything that happened being chalked up to magic. "Oh, I saved that guy? How?" Magic. "But... That doesn't make sen-" Magic. We don't know the limits of the magic, all we know is that it is magic and magic is magic. Also, why do all the people from certain Seasons have the same color scheme? Do they not breed with people from the other kingdoms? Why do the Conduit's only affect the people of their respective kingdom? Why are there four kingdoms of Seasons that each get a season for all time while the Rhythm kingdoms get four cycling seasons? How do the people in Winter get food? They can't grow things, can they? It doesn't make any sense to me. But I suppose, uhm, magic?

The writing was simple. Nothing too great about it. The symbolism was thrown in your face a million times and it got old. I get the spring was in darkness, okay? Please stop telling me every time you move throughout the castle.

Overall, I can't really remember what I liked about this book. I didn't feel any heartwarming feelings. I didn't feel much of anything other than annoyance at the conveniences that kept falling upon the characters. If I had to sum it all up into one word, I'd say: bland. It needed some seasoning! (the irony doesn't fall on me) But it has the right kind of structure and workings of a good book.

Final rating:
3 of 5