|these covers are so beautiful|
source: ARC from HarperCollins
publication: October 13, 2015, Balzer + Bray
**all quotes are from the uncorrected proof**
I gave both Snow Like Ashes and Ice Like Fire 3 stars, but I gave them each 3 stars for different reasons. The reasons for book 1 can be found here, but basically it was 1. The book was too surface level, 2. It was predictable, and 3. I didn't love the love interests.
Somehow, I didn't have these problems with Ice Like Fire. I still didn't love either Theron or Mather, but we get chapters from one of their POVs in this one (would it be a spoiler to say who? I'll refrain) and it made me like him much, much more. He wasn't a Peeta or a Will, but he was kind of a Mal (Mal haters to the left ok he's fantastic and you're wrong) or a Dorian (my preciousss). I picked a side in this love triangle, and sorry to those who like the other guy but that pretty much means she's going to end up with him. I always pick the right one—it's a special skill. *shrugs*
BUT ANYWAY. That's not to say this book didn't make me want to smash my head against something hard, because it did. Probably even more so than the first book. Namely, Meira: she was insufferable, and I don't make blanket negative statements about female characters unless I've thought it through. A lot. I loved Meira in book one. Girlfriend got stuff done and didn't care what anyone told her to do. But in Ice Like Fire, she's invented all this pressure on herself to be a Queen with a capital Q, the type of Queen all other Queens have been in the past, which is to say: nothing like Meira, the orphan. She still wants to be herself and is struggling to balance the two, but the struggle comes off more as incessant whining about not being allowed to be herself. Newsflash, Meira, YOU ARE THE QUEEN. NO ONE OUTRANKS YOU. YOU CAN BE WHOMEVER YOU DARN WELL PLEASE. You can be the queen who carries a chakram, or scales walls, or refuses to ally with morally reprehensible people. You can be the queen who changes people's conception of what a queen should be. Say it with me: I. AM. THE. QUEEN.
Now, let's talk about the plot. Meira is sent off with Theron to do something or other, and along the way she decides to make allies with the other kingdoms. Now, I get why she wants to do this, but I don't think I needed to read about it. It could have been something that happened between the books and was summarized at the beginning of book 2, for all I cared about how she made her allies. It's not like she's preparing for war and facing enemies left and right; she's just looking for people to support her in making Winter independent. The whole process was super boring.
Don't even talk to be about the magic, because if we start talking about the magic I'll start thinking about how convoluted it is and then I'll start thinking about how there are too many kingdoms to keep track of and do they all have magic or is it just some of them and why doesn't Meira just use her magic against her enemies like what is even the point of having it if you're just going to sit around wishing there was no such thing as magic and could we just cut out like half of the things that are going on in these books or
Ahem. So, my next gripe is with the clunky writing. There are so many extra words in every paragraph, I could probably go through it with a red pen and make the book at least 20% shorter. Gems like "he lays his lips across mine" could be shortened to something like "he kisses me" because
honestly everyone freaking knows what kissing is you don't need to spell it out like that (it kind of takes the romance out of it, too, when you make it sound like something he could have done accidentally). There are a lot of words that feel like they were taken from a thesaurus to sound prettier but they end up just sounding wrong. There's too much description of what things look like and not enough of how they make the characters feel. Half of the book feels like it's Meira seeing stuff and discovering stuff and experiencing stuff but not actually doing stuff.
To end on a positive note, I will say that I loved the Other Character's POV chapters (it was weird that they were in 3rd person past tense when Meira's are in 1st person present tense, but whatever). I liked what he was doing and how it showed his character. I liked the ending of this book, because finally we got a little lasting conflict between the characters instead of the kingdoms. There was an emotional bit toward the end that actually made me feel things, which never happened in Snow Like Ashes. Should I be hopeful that the third book will have more stuff like this, since it came at the end of the second? Who knows. But I might as well read it.