Frost Bite (VA #2) by Richelle Mead | Rating: ★★★★★
You can’t force love, I realized. It’s there or it isn’t. If it’s not there, you’ve got to be able to admit it. If it is there, you’ve got to do whatever it takes to protect the ones you love.
Frostbite, the second of the international bestselling series Vampire Academy, proves that sequels can take a bite out of your heart and kick your ass in ways that the first book didn’t. Just when you think you are safe from the feels, they come right back and punch you in the face.
If you didn’t know already: Richelle Mead’s take on vampires is filled with thrills, romances, mythology and more that will delight readers in a way that most in this genre can’t. Which is what makes the series so damn delicious. And for me, Frostbite is even more appealing by the fact that it takes place during winter break at St. Vladimir’s.
Picking up where Vampire Academy left off, we’re treated to our fill of Rosemarie Hathaway’s badassery in form of her always witty narration. Fresh off the events in which the despicable Victor Dashkov attempted to torture Lissa Dragomir in a mind blowing betrayal to both girls, readers can’t help but to wonder what could possibly be next now that Victor is locked away.
Frostbite wastes no time answering that question and intriguing readers with new developments, a whole lot of action, kickass friendships and sizzling romance. This book is just so good. In fact, if it fell off my book shelf and gave me a black eye, I'd say thank you.
Back to the story. Oh, there's just so much action and so much packed into this little guy my head is still swimming. I feel dizzy! Dizzy with danger. Things simply aren’t safe for Rose or her best friend, but as a dhampir she has a certain duty to live up to and protect Lissa at all cost.
Dhampirs and Moroi don’t typically have the sort of connection Rose and Lissa do: Rose was brought back to life by Lissa and her spirit use, causing the two to be bonded even deeper than they had already been.
It’s a curse and a blessing for Rose, who feels a lot of things from Lissa–including, ugh, her sex life. Which is doubly depressing for Rose, considering the situation her love life is in: she is hopelessly in love with the irresistible Dimitri; but their ages and positions lead this to be impossible.
But love and teenage angst aren’t the only things featured in Frostbite. Sure, there’s quite a bit of it. Frostbite draws more on the evil, undead type of vampires: Strigoi. Strigois are everything we’re taught to be afraid of when it comes to vampires… they are the worst kind. And unfortunately for the Moroi and Dhampir in this world, their threats are even more present than usual.
With several attacks on the royals and their families, their worlds are turned into more mystery and danger than ever. And Rose has a first hand view of a grisly attack… twice.
Let’s break down a little bit of each plot in this novel, shall we?
OH, THE ROMANCE! COLOUR ME SWOON
Dimitri and Rose feel their connection, but it is so beyond forbidden that they dance around the edge time and time again. Through flirting and angst and fighting and protection, these two scream endgame and will keep readers swooning and yelling “PLEASE, GET TOGETHER ALREADY!”–and although they have a long way to go and more than a view obstacles, Frostbite will be a satisfying read for all Romitri shippers.
But then there’s Mason–sweet, witty and sexy Mason who is, well, an angel. I loved Mason and I was so pumped to see more of him at the start of this novel. And that surprises me because I don't typically like the good guy trope, but it's impossible to not like him. I kept hoping that Rose would give him a chance and when she did, I kind of backtracked on this thought.
What Rose has with Dimitri is unshakable, but the sweetness and chemistry with Mason is there. We know that Rose and Mason would have probably been together if Dimitri wasn’t around. It is very obvious. But ultimately, Rose feels only friendship for Mason and a small attraction. I think he is comforting and familiar to her whereas Dimitri has a different kind of pull. I was sad to see Mason be lead on, but I think he knew in his heart that it wasn’t going to work out in the long run.
Dimitri also has the possibility of a distraction from Rose when Tasha Ozera, Christian’s aunt and mother like figure, visits and makes him an offer he may not be able to refuse.
And then we have Christian and Lissa. Boy, do I love them. I think they are fire and ice and everything good in unexpected pairings. I wish we could see more of them or something but really, their magic is there and just as strong as in the previous book.
FAMILY COMPLICATIONS AND THE PRESENCE OF GUARDIANS.
With all the attacks striking the royals and other Moroi by the hands of the Strigoi, the school is crawling with Guardians and the community is stirring with gossip and concerns when it comes down to what–or who–could be next.
Rose is startled, but not at the same time, to see that this also means the return of her mother: Janine Hathaway. Janine and Rose are not close by any means, and Rose clearly resents her mother for not being all that motherly. This causes a massive amount of tension at the school and before long, a punch is thrown–but who throws it and who is punched is the surprising part.
It is interesting seeing that connection between Rose and Janine. I liked the contrast in characters and the history there. Richelle portrays a mother-daughter relationship well and this is a unique case, really. I really liked reading their scenes.
THE SKI TRIP AND THE DOWNFALL
Strigoi are closing in and the community simply does not feel safe at this point. Which is why the school offers a safe haven for its students and their families this holiday season–a ski trip to keep everyone safe and together for the holidays. Luxury and beautiful snow fall, this is a fun setting for readers to enjoy during the winter.
All that landscape is romantic and leads to different plot points. It’s a nice change of scenery and for some reason, there is something appealing to me about this as a setting.
I think seeing the kids in a more relaxed setting was very refreshing because for brief moments, they get to be young and normal even though there is threat lingering. Readers will enjoy the fluffiness and romance of it as well as seeing the characters hit the slopes and lay back a little bit.
And it’s a blast seeing Rose and Mason get all competitive and daredevily. God, I loved it.
Plus, we get the introduction of the brilliant character that is Adrian Ivashkov. He is sexy, a royal, secretive and a lot more like Lissa than we’d expect. I think Adrian is more than the typical bad boy with a heart of gold; the way he is packaged in this one is a bit on the fence. But I liked his scenes a lot more than I’d ever imagined because he adds something light and sexy to the series in the way that Rose does.
They give each other a run for their money and I’m so looking forward to the exploration of his spirit use; as well as seeing more interactions between him and Lissa.
But the fun only lasts so long. When another attack is made by the monsters of our story, their world is shaken once more.
And things are only getting worse.
We see a lot more of Mia at this point who becomes a lot more bearable in Frostbite than she was in Vampire Academy. She still starts out as snarky and stereotypical mean girl seeking revenge. But with her loss–her mother is killed–she becomes determined in a different way and a lot more down to earth. I expect good things from Mia and though her actions aren’t always the wisest, especially in the last quarter of the novel, she has the right idea and a solid amount of strength.
In other words, she surprised me a lot and I really hope Richelle gives us more of her character and develops her further.
THE LOSS, THE FIGHTS, THE THRILLS
Now, I will give it to you guys honestly here and now: the last half of this book is heartbreaking and will leave your heart racing out of your chest. It’s impossible to put down. It’s everything action-packed that is lacking in YA lit these days and you’re going to love and hate it. Frostbite is far more captivating in this sense than its predecessor.
When Eddie, Mason and Mia decide to play superhero and go on a hunt for Strigoi on their own, Rose feels responsible. If she and Mason hadn’t fought, maybe they wouldn’t be in this situation. Knowing her sorta-boyfriend and his friends are in serious danger, Rose enlists Christian’s help to find them and unfortunately they are all roped into a whole world of danger when the bad guys capture them.
After being tortured, threatened and seemingly near the end of their lives, the group finds its way out. But not without casualties: Mason, sadly, dies right in front of Rose and it’s just… it’s honestly one of the most heartbreaking scenes ever.
THE GROWTH AND THE OUTCOME
With the loss of Mason, it changes a lot of things for Rose. I think we’ve seen a great deal of growth from her in these two novels, but this one really shakes things up for her and chills her to the bone and ultimately causes a new wave of determination in her. She has now killed a good number of Strigoi but at a great cost.
In this, it ties her to Mia and Eddie and Christian in a way she wasn’t before. You can’t go through a situation like that without something sparking and connecting you to the others involved. We don’t hear much from Eddie after he is fed off of, but I don’t doubt that that night changed him the most–Mason was his best friend.
So between Mia, Rose and Eddie, there’s a massive tie between the most changed in this round. And that’s something readers will discover quickly.
THE CONS OF WINTERY WONDERLANDS
Besides Mason’s death, the only con in Frostbite is the lack of Lissa. Where’s our princess?! Okay, that’s a bullshit thing to say–she’s present throughout the novel but I wish we could have seen more of her. I look forward to her development, more awesome scenes between her and Rose, as well as the exploration of her powers.
There’s still so much to be learned when it comes to spirit users and I’m more than ready to hear it all. The good, the bad, the moderately acceptable.
I felt a little upset that she wasn’t more prominent in this one but I have a feeling that will change so I’m not gonna bug out on it.
THE OTHER PROS, OH THE PROS!
That end scene of Dimitri and Rose.
Can you say phew?
Overall, Frostbite is a blast. Beyond better than the original. It’s the perfect treat for readers no matter the season and you don’t have to be a fan of the vampire genre to check out this phenomenal series. Prepare yourself for steam, for violence and action, kickass females, for sarcasm and a wild ride! Frostbite is a definite must-read for anyone.
There’s nothing like reading it for the first time either. It’s so intriguing and perfectly crafted, I can’t get enough! There's no competition... Vampire Academy is the best series in its genre. Hands down... it makes everything else feel disposable.