Frostblood is the debut from Elly Blake and is about a teenager named Ruby Otrera who's living in a divided nation between the Frostbloods and the Firebloods. She's a Fireblood trapped in a Frostblood world, where everyone can form ice and she can form fire. And one time, a boy named Clay accused her of killing his baby sibling when she tried to take care of him when he was sick and couldn't. After months in Blackcreek Prison, she's rescued by a Frostblood named Arcus who refuses to show his face, and a rebel council that wants to overtake the Frostblood throne. They need her for that, but first she must train, and then when and if she can successfully overtake the kingdom, something never done before, what will become of her?
As I was typing that synopsis, I felt kind of bored already. After three years of film and book criticism where I've read books of all shapes and sizes with my heart ripped open and my respiratory system pumping and my eyes fountaning tears, Frostblood ends up in last place on the race. The first flaw about the beginning is that too much happens all at once. Imagine if the first chapter showed the time when Ruby couldn't save Clay's brother and had to run off on him. Or perhaps maybe a famine, something that I haven't already read consecutive times in YA. And I also gave in my synopsis the fact that she goes to prison. The book dustjacket does it too. But it's not major spoilers because her time in prison only takes place over one chapter. Maybe if it were like Shatter Me and began in the prison then we could have some fun imagining her time in captivity, but we don't have, ahem, time to really digest. And then this line comes up:
"I was cold all the time, even if I still felt warm to the touch of Arcus."
Uh, what? You only just met him, and between you and me, Arcus isn't the most jubilant character you'll ever meet. And the society really wasn't very anger-inducing. Most YA books that I like have an antagonist or a society that you can't help but itch to have them clobbered. There was what we got in the first chapter but as the pages go on, it isn't as effective. Ruby ends up being able to have some time to herself with an intelligent horse and that was some fresh air, but then when training begins, I felt reminded of the Cherub book series where the main character James was the only sympathetic character around a pile of military-youth bullies and fools. That's what it felt like when Ruby has to apologize for something she didn't have to apologize for. I may be sounding very cruel. This sort of description would harbor something between a 1 and a 0, right? Well, there are some moments of interesting fantasy around the superpowers, and then Frostblood picks itself back up (a little) at the second mark.
That's when Frostblood puts itself in its own little shoes. The book ends up with some originality, Ruby making some friends in unsuspecting places and having some time for action that brings an after-taste of mystery and thought. There's even a character reveal that took me off guard and all of a sudden I extremely cared about what was happening and if the characters would get out of the pickle they were in. Not to mention the fact everything's simply cold. It's Winter in Frostblood territory and Ruby ends up quite cold. Think of the last time you were in the cold ocean or maybe had a glass of cold water spilt on you, then think of it times 5. I got invested whenever Ruby felt powerless by all the cold that was going through her at the hands of her enemies. Why? Because it was its own little idea. Kind of like its idea of this world's gods and worshippers, who don't have much relevance to the book other than to take up pages.
Frostblood gets much better after page 193, so much so that I can even feel bad about ranting about its first half. But blended together, I can't give a recommendation. This is not a terrible book, but even if you wanted something that defined YA literature, or in other plain words, be familiar with anyone who's heard of The Hunger Games, then Frostblood wouldn't even be on my list of first recommendations.