14 agosto 2011

Review: Touch of Frost

Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Kesington Publishing (2011)
Format:  Paperback | 350 pages
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Description (Goodreads): "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. . ."
Although I own several books by Jennifer Estep, I'd never read anything by her before. I like Urban Fantasy but the genre is so saturated that I am starting to be weary of any new series that comes out. That is why I postponed the reading of Estep's adult series. But as "Touch of Frost" seemed interesting and I was in the mood to read more about ancient myths (after Dark Descendant) I decided to give it a try.

I liked it. It was a good YA urban fantasy, even if it wasn't exactly original. The base story is a very common one: a boarding school filled with rich kids that have some supernatural power. In this case it's a school for "mythological warriors" (like Valkyries, Amazons, Vikings, Spartans, Romans and the likes) who are trained in the arts of combat so that they can later join the ongoing battle against the evil guys.

Of course our heroine, Gwen, ends up in Mythos Academy in a rather precipitous and slightly unrealistic way. She doesn't fit into any class of warrior so she is shunned by everyone. The only ability she has is the gift of psychometry which allows her to 'extract' feelings and images from any object or person.

When a student is murdered and an ancient artefact stolen Gwen decides to use her power to find out 'who did it'.

So, as you see, "Touch of Frost" isn't exactly the picture of originality, either in terms of story or character development. I'll admit Gwen was pretty cute and I loved that she was so nerdy, but Logan was pretty much a walking stereotype of the perfect YA male protagonist; he was a Spartan warrior and a serious bad boy who slept around but somehow ended up attracted to Gwen. I see how this may appeal to teen readers but I'm getting kind of tired of reading about the same characters over and over again.
I will say, though, that I liked Daphne... the popular kid turned geek was amusing to read about.

The plot wasn't very complex: it was a mixture of "whodunit" with everyday high school life. The usual. Parties, catty popular girls, the geeky protagonist falling for the bad and mysterious boy, etc.
As for the "mythology" and the basic concept behind Mythos Academy, it reminded me a bit of Harry Potter. Still, it was original enough. I wasn't particularly thrilled with Estep's definition of "mythological warriors" - as far as I know Spartans, Romans, Vikings and Celtics were pretty real - but I got her idea and I suppose a little creative license is okay.

Overall, while I liked "Touch of Frost" I have to say it isn't a book that stands out among all the similar-themed YA Urban Fantasy that I've read. The heroine was a definite strong point, but I think the author should try to be a little more original, even if I reckon it's pretty much impossible nowadays. Still, a gripping read that kept me interested in spite of lacking originality.

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