Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review: Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

Ugh, what an awful few days it's been. First, it's been really busy at work... and second, my computer is giving me trouble. Again. This time though, I'm throwing down the towel and I'm ready to buy a new computer. Except, buying one is not as easy as it seems or as it should be ^_^;  I'm debating whether I should still go with Dell or another brand and how long it'll take till I get it if I order it. Just yesterday night alone, I got the blue screen of death 6 times!!  That's not counting the number of times Chrome crashed on me! At the rate it's going, I won't be able to wait for long... so I'm thinking perhaps instant gratification at a store is the way to go instead of ordering online. Sigh, decision, decision, decision.

In the meantime, I'm really happy to finally have this review up!! Yay!! I'm really having a hard time putting reviews together lately. It's just not coming together nicely in my opinion... Despite that, I hope this review still make sense :) Let me know if it doesn't!!

Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
published by Kensington in July 2011
My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy — a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.

But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why—especially since I should have been the one who died...
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Series: Mythos Academy series, Book #1

The Story: In Gwen Frost's family, the women have powers. Her grandmother sees the future, her mother could sense the truth and Gwen knows, sees and feels an object or a person's history upon touch. Because of those powers, the Frost women are considered as Gypsies.

Six months ago, Gwen's mother died. Not long afterwards, Gwen was enrolled at Mythos Academy, an elite Ivy League prep school for the descendants of mythological warriors: Amazons, Valkyries, Romans, Vikings, Spartans, Trojans, Celts, Samurais, Ninjas and so on. Being the new kid is difficult, but in this case, Gwen just feels she doesn't fit in: she is not a warrior and cannot wield any weapon, she's not rich, she's not wearing any brand names and is into comics... Her friendless state doesn't really matter anyway as Gwen is still dealing with her grief.

Then, the most popular - and mean - girl, Jasmine Ashton, is murdered in the Library of Antiquities, where Gwen works, and the Bowl of Tears, one of the Thirteen Artifacts, is stolen... Jasmine wasn't among Gwen's favorite people, but she is bothered that everyone is indifferent to Jasmine's death. Something else that's on her mind is that Gwen actually touched Jasmine's blood and corpse... and didn't flash. Things just don't add up and therefore, Gwen decides to investigate Jasmine's death. And in the course of her investigation, she ends up making unexpected allies...

My Opinion: Well I've become a fan of Ms Estep with her Elemental Assassin series and I was looking forward to Touch of Frost because I thought that Ms Estep's writing would lend itself well to YA... and I was right :) Touch of Frost ended up being a really enjoyable read :)

I admit, I'm not a fan of high school drama. I know, I know, it's the predominant theme in YA books ^_^; I guess it's because I never experience high school drama to that extent, so I cannot relate. That's why I usually prefer paranormal or fantasy YA. However, in this instance, I think Ms Estep did a good job at blending the regular life of a teenager with the paranormal elements. It felt a bit like the Percy Jackon series version teenagers LOL. I like that while these characters were supernaturals: Valkyries, Spartans, etc., their concerns were ones from typical teenagers, i.e. going to school, having friends, their crushes, who are they going to go to the dance with and so on. For them, being supernatural didn't bring them more angst or make their lives so different. I liked that at Mythos Academy, they didn't need to hide who they were. As you can see, the setting  really worked for me.

Another aspect of the book that worked for me were the characters :) I really liked them. Gwen was a nice heroine that I could get behind and cheer for. She was quite independent and didn't really care about high school drama - a plus in my book :) I liked that she was her own person and was quite comfortable with it. I also liked that she wasn't too morose or depressed. Yes, her mother passed away and part of Gwen felt guilty and that's why she isolated herself in the past few months... However, she was ready to come out of her shell and move on, start making friends and live. Basically, she was a good character with a lot of potential and one that I'm curious to see what will happen to :) I also liked what I've seen of the secondary characters. I thought at first that Daphne would be a bitch, but it was nice to see things turn around and her becoming Gwen's ally. I'm looking forward for their relationship to develop :) Carson was a nice guy, a bit of a geek. I thought his romance with Daphne was cute and most likely, he will become the voice of reason in their little group. As for Logan, he was quite the mystery. It was hard to figure him out, as he blew hot and cold... Obviously though, the guy is interested in Gwen and I'm sure whatever his secret or reasons to be had to do with Gwen. Right now, I'm thinking he's her protector... He seemed to always be there at the right moment and probably know much more than he let on. I wonder how long it will take for Gwen to figure it out :)

There was a lot of world building in Touch of Frost, but Ms Estep was good at not dumping all the information at once. She was able to spread it out as the story went on and I thought the storyline was a good one. I liked seeing Gwen taking an interest and investigating Jasmine's death... although it felt like her amateur sleuthing was too easy. Also, the fact that the teachers didn't look more into Jasmine's death was highly suspicious in my opinion. In any case, the twist at the end was quite interesting and I didn't really expect it :) What I'm most happy about though is that Ms Estep cleared out the Gyspy thing in this book. First, it means she thought about it and so every dots should connect :) Also, it gives us a little idea of what to expect in the future.

All in all, Touch of Frost was a solid start to this series in my opinion. The style of the book is easy to read and enjoyable, the characters are engaging and the storyline was interesting. Ms Estep gives us enough information and answers so we are not too anxious and going crazy, but still looking forward to the next book :)

My Grade: B.