Book Review: Ice Like Fire

IceLikeFire

3star

Title: Ice Like Fire

Author: Sara Raasch

Series? Yes. 2 of 3.

Rating: 3/5

Book Depository

Goodreads


I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins Australia in exchange for an honest review.

Contains spoilers for Snow Like Ashes!

This was one of my most anticipated release for the latter half of 2015, as I absolutely loved Snow Like Ashes. Unfortunately, Ice Like Fire suffers from a fierce case of Middle Book Slump, it has little of the spark that initially ignited my love for Meira and the Winterians. Today, I’ll look at why middle books often do not work for me, and how Ice Like Fire fell trap to all these factors.IceLikeFire-Review

The Worldbuilding Lacks Depth

One of the reasons that keeps me reading a fantasy series is the world, and the expansion of the world with every instalment. For example, Harry Potter, I could stay on board every step of the way as there was always new corners of the wizarding world to explore. Whether it be the hidden Room of Requirement or an international Quidditch tournament.

Cordell, with its green and gold and fields of lavender; Yakim, with its brown and brass and gears; Ventralli, with its eclectic styles and colourful buildings..

With Ice Like Fire, we did get to explore numerous new kingdoms: Summer, Yakim and Ventralli. Unfortunately, while we got to see multiple new places, none of the new location had any depth to them. The kingdoms are differentiated by very superficial factors. Summer ruled by an indulgent king, only interested in parties and debauchery. There’s the strict and bookish world of Yakim, seemingly modelled after England during the Industrialisation period. Finally, there’s the dramatic, treasonous Ventralli, whose intentions are hidden behind elegant masks. These separate kingdoms are walking stereotypes, and Meira never gets to learn more about the culture of these places. My understanding of Primoria did not expand, despite the numerous pages we spent extolling on the qualities of Summer’s wine and Yakim’s knowledge.

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Character Developments Are Stalled, Or Take An Unpleasant Direction

In trilogies, many middle books are spent on setting up the stage for the epic finale. This understandbly leads author to avoid confrontations and climactic moments like the plague. To me: middle books are ‘feelings book’, where the characters analyse and question their motivation – rather than tackling the issue head on. I know it’s somewhat required to prepare for a fantastic conclusion, but I can’t help be be annoyed by the repetitive and almost manufactured nature of the conflicts.

You don’t need [the chakram] anymore. You are queen. You protect us in other ways
I know. But why can’t I be both?

While I know many people found Meira too stubborn and wilful in Snow Like Ashes, I would take her older, spunkier self any day to this shell of a character. I understand that we’re seeing Meira at her most uncertain and vulnerable in this book. She has rescued an entire kingdom, and while she excelled at playing The Hero – she truly struggles to be Queen. The book wavers between her insecurity and an endless cycle of self-pity. There were some moments when we got to see glimpses of the old Meira: vulnerable but resolute. Unfortunately, most of the page time is devoted to her feeling of inadequacy and her conflict with Theron. Meira’s absolutely lost in this book, both with regards to her identity and the direction she wants to take her kingdom. The monotonous nature of her emotional conflict was difficult to read, and I found my attention wavering.

He wasn’t king anymore. He wasn’t an orphan anymore. He wasn’t in Meira’s life anymore.
None of this was the freedom he thought he’d wanted.”

The other main characters did not fare much better. Mather, in his good intentions, attempts to find solidarity amongst the younger Winterians, dubbed ‘Children of the Thaw’. His chapters felt jarring, not only because they were written in a different tense and from third person – but also because it had no relation to the main plot. While I understand that without these chapters, Mather would have disappeared from the storyline altogether – I could not engage in them.

“That’s how relationships work – when one person is blind, the other must see for them. When one person struggles, the other must remain strong.”

Finally, it comes to no surprise that Theron was one of my highlights in Snow Like Ashes, and the development that took place in Ice Like Fire is too painful for me to bear. Is this how the Chaol fans felt in Queen of Shadows? There needs to be some sort of support group for this stuff. My favourite aspect of Theron’s characterisation was his transparency and no-nonsense positivity. I adored him and Meira because they used to build one another up, they also had an instinctual understanding of one another’s fears and values. In this book, the discovery of a magic chasm in Primoria places a huge wall between the two characters. The lack of communication and trust drove me insane, as did the resurfacing of a love triangle I thought was long dead.

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Nothing Is Accomplished

“No one should be forced to be something they aren’t.”

I know, I know, we’re saving it all for the grand finale. However, I can’t help but think if you don’t have enough material to make three books, why would you bother with a trilogy. Meira did a lot of traveling and country hopping in this book in an attempt to prevent Noam’s greedy ambitions and Angra’s return. This all sounds very exciting, yet there is very little advancement in the 450+ pages. The majority of the exposition occured in the last thirty pages, while the rest of the book felt like filler. Sure, we got to meet Ceridwen, who’s pretty awesome – but the rest of the book? Utterly unmemorable.

At least the last 30 pages almost made this plodding read worth it. There’s plenty of betrayals and blood to go around, and it has the qualities that made me love Snow Like Ashes. The finale was heartstopping with all of the action and brutality, so I still have high hopes for Book 3. Crossing my fingers that the series returns to its former glory.


What do you think makes a successful sequel? Have you read Ice Life Fire, what were your thoughts?

38 thoughts on “Book Review: Ice Like Fire

  1. I loved the first book but my hype for this one died a bit along the way. xD I will still read it, but I’ll probably wait until the third book is out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wahhhh! I loved the first book so much… this not good 😦
    I’m just hoping you’re a harsher critic then me. And now I have to read it right away to find out what’s happening to Theron! No No No T___T

    Great review by the way 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love how your reviews not only talk about the book, but also books in general. I am just bookmarking every other review of yours as writing advice 😄 I haven’t read Snow Like Ashes, so I skimmed over the book-specific portions, but now you mention it, these do seem like common problems of middle books.

    PS: What do you mean, character development takes an unpleasant direction? My character always develop in unpleasant directions. They either start out unpleasant people and stay that way or end up unpleasant people. (Or dead. That’s always an option.)

    PPS: Tagged you for a thing! Hope you have fun 🙂 http://randommorbidinsanity.blogspot.hk/2015/10/nostalgic-book-review-tag-bedtime-book.html

    Liked by 1 person

    • thanks Alyssa! I started doing it in this format cos I didn’t have enough to say about the books themselves haha.

      I worded it badly. I meant unpleasant as in I can’t recognise the characters anymore. If they grew and developed into another person organically- I’m totally down. But if it seems like they’ve been hit by the amnesia train and transform into another person between book 1 and 2?! I CAN’T.

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  4. OMG I wanna read this post so badly (don’t worry I didn’t peek)!!! But I am past the halfway mark now and should finish it tomorrow (well..today). OMG I just accidentally looked up at the previous comment and saw “character development takes an unpleasant direction”! Noooo…NO! Don’t tell me… Theron?…*major freak out* HOW CAN I SLEEP TONIGHT?! He hasn’t done anything that bad yet apart from the initial betrayal but…OMG

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This book review is like a list of all the reasons I am not particularly into reading series any more. I get so frustrated when I’m reading something that feels like a stop gap!

    I think however, it does say something positive about the characters that despite your disappointment, you kept on going. Hopefully there will be an epic finale to make up for it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I felt that the author didn’t know where to take the plot and character without Angra serving as the evil villain. Unfortunately this book was just cliché land with all the hidden keys, angsty royalty, etc. I’m still keen to see where it will go from here.

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  6. I wavered on picking up the first book when there was a deal on it recently, but ultimately I decided on waiting until the series to be over before consider it. I am following way too many series right now, and the reviews of both books out now have been mixed so it’s probably better for me to wait 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I hope that this was just a one off thing and the series is back to prime form in the last instalment. I really loved the first one so it might still be worth it to check it out if positive reviews of book 3 rolls in next year.

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  7. I completely agree with this review 110%. I guess I was just expecting something more, especially with how absolutely incredible Snow Like Ashes was. This doesn’t nearly come close to Ashes in terms of characterization or pacing, which is a shame because those are the elements that made the first book so good. 😦 The ending was really good though. Thanks for sharing Aentee and, as always, fabulous review! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I freaking loved Snow Like Ashes and this was the book I was CLAMOURING for this year. Such a huge down buzz sadly. Hopefully things will turn around.

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  8. I’ve heard some not so great things about this second book and I must say your review has me hesitant to pick it up. I adore Theron and hate to see his character ruined. I’m still in pain about a certain other ship and I don’t know if I can handle more pain right now. I appreciate your honest review though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think most lovers of Theron would be sad about this book. Maybe wait for the third one to come out before deciding when you’ll continue?

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  9. Totally agree with all of this. I was so BORED during the first half. I may have nodded off, who even knows. Now, I am a Mather fan, BUT none of it made sense. This needed to be a duology, it seems. Because HOW was that 450 pages when I think I got maybe 5 new bits of information. I could have made a brochure and called it a day. I swear, if book 3 does this, I am going to be MAD. Fabulous review- in depth and insightful!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same I was full on skimming some of the sections. I agree I wish that she just condensed the info into two books– all the traveling and key finding in this book just felt like filler.

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    • Yeah. I mean I get that some of the stuff was necessary to up the ante for the final book – but urgh it was difficult to read my favourite characters so changed.

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  10. I felt the exact same way about this book. And yes, this is how the Chaol fans felt during QoS only worse bc there was no hope of return. But this book felt like it had no plot and it didn’t move the story forward at all. And the Meira I loved was completely gone. I don’t understand why this consistently happens in trilogies. I agree with you, if you don’t have enough story then don’t write 3 books. I’d much rather have a duology then a pointless middle book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • *cries into my pillow* I love Theron so much this is not fair. And Meira’s character development regressed so much I felt that book one didn’t even happen. I hope the book will find itself a plot now that Angra is back.

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  11. OMG I AM SO SAD RIGHT NOW. I haven’t even seen one good review for this. *wails* I loved the first book so so much and I thought it was clever and that Meira was fabulous. But second-book-blues are the death of me. Grrrrr. I hate it when books don’t accomplish anything. Especially when it’s just travelling around instead of, ya know, letting magic rain and heads roll and all that fun stuff fantasies like. hehe Okay, I am a violent little fantasy reader. BUT STILL. I will read this one because…I need to. xD But I’ll probably library it instead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ME TOO. SNOW LIKE ASHES IS ONE OF MY FAVE EVER. *cries* Meira basically regressed a little in this book. I think without Angra as a clear villain the book couldn’t find direction.

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  12. Oh dear, this trilogy is going to give me trouble isn’t it?? I liked book one, but second book syndrome will be the death of me. Maybe I’ll wait and see if the conclusion is worth pushing through the middle?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know the second book is a necessary evil but I wish that more stuff happened here! Yes I think waiting for the third one is a wise move here.

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  13. The first book really didn’t hold my attention and I felt like it was over hyped. Its a shame the second one wasn’t as good though, now I’ll probably never get around to it.

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  14. I think I gave Ice Like Fire a two star rating for this reason. I think these books are just overhyped and then when you finish reading you’re left with a sense that you’ve been lied to. lol I wasn’t a big fan of Snow Like Ashes either. but this one was dull beyond words.

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