Published by Penguin on September 17th 2013
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley
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A major new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author of Blue Bloods and The Witches of East End.
Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature - freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.
At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called "the Blue." They say it's a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it's a place where Nat won't be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.
But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies?
Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all. This is a remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic.
True story, I could probably leave you with that and call it a day. I won’t, of course, but I could and you probably would be fine. I should have listened to Cait @ Notebook Sisters like I usually do. I should have listened to Kirsty @ Studio Reads like I usually do. I trust their recommendations, and generally don’t fall too far from the same opinion. But, it sounded interesting, the cover is gorgeous, and it was on Netgalley. So I did the only logical thing: Ignored reason and read it anyway.
Sigh. I tried to get into it, because 1) Vegas and 2) Frozen world. I’d read about 15% and I was calling it quits, for the time being. I had no idea what was going on, and I kind of didn’t care. Plus, the copy I had looked more like a ransom note than an ebook (look, I get having an unfinished proof, but goodness, this was too much!) and it was incredibly hard to read, when names and places weren’t capitalized, font sizes were all over the place, etc. But then I DNFed another review book. It was my first ever DNF, and I just couldn’t do it twice in one week. So I picked this bad boy back up.
The weird thing was, I actually started to like it after awhile! I had gotten a bit used to the world and the characters, and even though the text was gibberish, my eyes were starting to compute. I liked Nat and Wes, and really was started to get interested in what was happening to them. A good chunk of the book ended up taking place in a sea of frozen garbage… or something. Basically, Wes and his crew were being paid by Nat to take her to “the Blue” (which, incidentally, I feel like I have read before), and so it was a sea-trip of sorts, with all kinds of people trying to stop them on their illegal journey. That part was okay for awhile, I was even kind of getting into it, but then weird stuff that didn’t make sense started happening. Someone ended up overboard, and everyone was like “okay, cool, see you never”. And then all kinds of magical junk started showing up, and it made absolutely no sense, certainly not in the context of this book. I couldn’t keep track of who had powers, who didn’t, and (importantly to me) why. Then there were so many random groups of “bad guys”, they were just showing up all over the place. I don’t want to say too much of course, but suffice it to say that the ending was completely ridiculous, made zero sense, and basically made me just scream in frustration. I guess it was supposed to set up the next book but um, nope. It just confused me and made me angrier.
The world building… I needed more of it. Maybe some of these random powers and such would have worked if there was more of a context for them to work in. But as it stood, there were just so, so many unanswered questions for me that I couldn’t get any visual of the setting. I was just getting “cold, dead stuff, ocean-like body of water, magic”. And a kid eating his jacket, because that happened.
The other issue I had was that the characters felt like they could have worked. The bones were there, and maybe they’ll be developed more in future books that I won’t be reading, but they were kind of shells. I kept waiting for the character development to come, because it felt kind of close, but it never did. I feel like this book could have been a lot better had it been in first person dual POVs, but the third person dual POVs made me feel quite detached from both characters.
I guess the bottom line is that the whole book could have worked. The premise was pretty fantastic, and the characters had potential (hence the star and a half that I ended up giving it), but it never delivered, and then just got weird, complicated, confusing, and downright annoying.
Clearly, this was not a win for me. What is the last book that frustrated you so much you wanted to (or did) scream at it? Don’t worry, I definitely screamed at this one.