Frozen (Heart of Dread #1) by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston: Book Review

cover from Goodreads
Title: Frozen (Heart of Dread #1)
Authors: Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston
Publication Details: September 17, 2013 by Putnam Juvenile
Publication Details (UK Edition): October 2, 2014 by Orchard Books
Copy: eBook (UK edition) from Hachette Children's Book through NetGalley

From New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston comes this remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic.

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 to take her 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.

Dystopian, fantasy, adventure and romance in one

I did not expect to enjoy this book! I actually had no expectations but man, why didn't I read this sooner?

The Earth finally caved in. The world is covered in ice, freezing, and gray. People are trying their best to live, or rather, survive. Nothing much is left of the world, but there's no other way but to strive.

Others are hopeful to go to a place known as the Blue, a world where trees are green and the sky is still blue. Not only is the place a paradise but it's also where other inhabitants of the earth can live in peace. The journey to the Blue can be dangerous and the place is not really guaranteed to exist. But for someone like Natasha Kestal, risking it is the only way. With the help of a group of runners, her journey to the Blue will not only be an escape but it will also be a way for her to embrace her true identity.

Frozen kind of reminded me of Under the Never Sky and Shatter Me but nevertheless this was one enjoyable read. Reading Frozen was a gripping experience. From the first chapter up to the last, I was never bored. I liked how the scenes built up until its peak, and how no scenes were wasted.

I thought it will be predictable but it wasn't. Well, at least for me. That's why toward the end, my heart and my stomach were having funny feelings. The ending gave many possibilities for the second book. And I can't wait for its release on November!

And the world building! I loved it! Yes, the same elements of dystopian and fantasy genres were present but something in the way they were pieced together made them beautiful and somehow look fresh.

I don't think I hate a single character. I think they were all well-written , even the minor characters. They all contributed to the plot and the major characters' development. I think everyone represented a part of today's society, of today's humanity. I liked that.

I especially liked Nat, the protagonist. Her first scene reminded me of the first scene in Shatter Me, but Nat's character was really played out well. She believes that she's a monster but she didn't wallow in self- pity. She may have a hard time accepting who she is but she's never stubborn and irrational. She's smart and brave.

Wes. I found another book boyfriend is all. Haha! Wes is also smart and brave. He is calculating and plans really well. I also liked that he believes in Nat even though she doesn't in herself. He may be young but he carries responsibilities like an adult. And most of all, despite the bad things he was and still is exposed to, he has a heart, a good heart.

I also liked Shakes. He's very optimistic and loyal. He's a true friend and a brother to Wes. And like Wes, he also has a good heart.

I can go on with the other minor characters but this post will be very long if I did. Haha! As I've mentioned, I don't think I hate a single character.

I enjoyed the third person POV. Most of the POVs came from Nat and Wes but the narrator also included those of other characters. It's actually one of the reasons why I love this book because the POVs brought the characters to life. I understood them and I was able to connect with them.

I'm pretty sure I've read other books in the same genre (or genres, as Frozen belongs to many) but I think it still brought a fresh take to the same elements. The book was written by two authors but the flow of the events was smooth, and I think everything was well-connected.


Frozen is a story about trust- trusting in yourself and in others. Moreover, it's a story about embracing your own identity, about sticking to your true self, and choosing what is good and right.

I definitely recommend this book to fantasy readers out there! It's an enjoyable and gripping read!

(My rating is 0.5 short because I couldn't understand the card and gambling terms.)

Photo by Wendy Werris (Publishers Weekly)
Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloodsseries, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.

Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boysand the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.

She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.

Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!) (Reference: Melissa de la Cruz Website).


After being behind the scene of Melissa de la Cruz's success, Michael Johnston, finally took the time to get off the background and be a co-author with his wife.

"I graduated from Columbia University School of Architecture in 1999, and got a job with a firm in New York right away. But then Mel’s father got sick, and we had to move to L.A. very quickly. I took a job with a good firm here, and we did high-end celebrity homes. I didn’t like that very much. It’s a good, lucrative business, but not as artful as the architecture I did in New York. Then I had my own firm, and some great clients, but I liked it less and less. I didn’t see the creativity and the artistic element that made me love architecture, the crazy avant-garde stuff that’s hard to build. The work in Hollywood feels a bit shallow. So I started working in the background with Mel on the books, still feeling dissatisfied, and then took time to brew Frozen. When we sold it is when I shut down my firm. I love architecture and will come back to it in some way in the future (Reference: Wendy Werris, Publishers Weekly)."

That's all folks!