Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch (ARC): Review


It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.


"No one should have to beseech higher people for permission to be who they are, only to find their pleas ignored. No one should be forced to be something they aren't."

In Ice Like Fire, Meira is the Winter Queen. She's responsible for the freedom of her people, her kingdom. Except when it involves political games, potential allies/rivals, and the Decay consuming everything that is good bit by bit, the struggles are harsh. Both Meira and Mather are in a position where a single mistake means losing everything they've worked so hard for. Things are slowly deteriorating again. But this time, the stakes are higher.

I was a little bit confused when Sara included Mather's point of view in the book. Mather's point of view has its significance in the book, but not entirely what I expected. His perspective is interesting, don't get me wrong. He represents the group of young Winterians who only know violence and hardship. They are not content with the current state of Winter, hopeful yet so very vulnerable. The older ones however, think otherwise. They are angry and frustrated because of it. Mather shows a great development in the book, both in his intellect and maturity. But, his story rarely intertwines with Meira's in the book, which still covers the majority of Ice Like Fire. While I like the fact that Mather is different in this book, his importance to the main story is slightly too minimal.

A typical phenomenon in the sequels of YA novels is that there are a ton of arguments between protagonists. Which can be both intriguing and annoying at the same time. This is exactly the case in Ice Like Fire, which is the reason why I take off one star in my rating on Goodreads (I gave Snow Like Ashes a five out of five on Goodreads). Meira has to make hard decisions in order to protect her people, which includes making allies that repels her, trying to control her magic, working behind her love ones' back, and so on. Considering the surprising turn at the end of the book, her actions are somewhat necessary. But the internal struggle is agonizing. Both for Meira and me as a reader. Sure, she has grown since the start of the series, from a soldier girl who rushes recklessly to save the day, to a warrior queen that has to make logical, mature decisions and take great risks to save her country at the same time. The details of her choosing and internal battle is very intricate, and I admire Sara's writing because of it. But, like I said, it can get frustrating, especially when she argues with Theron. Sure, the causes of those arguments are reasonable. But reading two of my favorite characters in the series argue is not my definition of fun. You should mentally prepare yourself for some dose of frustration before you read the book.

Speaking of Theron... well, let's just say I'm a little bit angry at him. The problem is how his character is portrayed. His innocence is a precious thing in the previous book, fueling Meira's determination to free her own country. But in this book, where Meira is caught in the center of political games and dark magic threatening to devour her country and the whole world, his innocence is ridiculous. Being an optimistic person is one thing, a rare light that should be preserved. But being an optimistic pacifist in the midst of all this mess makes me question his... personality. It annoys me, not just he thinks the disorder of things can be easily resolved. In fact, this is basically nothing compared to the fact that he acts upon it without informing Meira, and he thinks what he is doing is completely right. Of course, the cause of this ridiculous optimism is revealed later in the book, at least partly. I shouldn't hold grudges against that quality because of that cause and the fact that he normally has an easy-going personality, but it doesn't seem befitting in the book.

Throughout the book, Meira has met some interesting people, including potential allies and hostile powers. The addition of these characters have quite an effect on the plot. Ceridwen is one of them. A Summer princess that doesn't act like a Summerian (if that is what they are called). She has a sort of street-smart personality and is very observant, so much so that Meira is often unnerved by her keen scrutiny. While Meira's action are usually made independent of others, her presence does matter, and I have a feeling I will be seeing more of her in the last installment. However, like so many new characters that Meira acquaints with, she remains a wild card that I have grown to like. 

This book, unlike Snow Like Ashes, is more intricately plotted and quite beautifully written. There are some things that I'm not satisfied with, but it remains a more than decent sequel.

Rating: 7.5/10

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