Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: Frost

Marianna Baer
Young Adult
400 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available September 13th
Received at BEA/tour through Teen Book Scene

The moment Leena sees Frost House on the edge of campus, she knows it's the perfect place for her and her three closest friends to live senior year. Though they manage to snag the beautiful dorm for themselves, Leena finds herself with an unexpected addition to their group in the form of Celeste Lazar.

Eccentric artist Celeste broke her foot and therefore needs to live somewhere easy for her to get around, and given that their original fourth roommate is abroad for their first semester, Leena's ground floor room is the perfect solution.

Leena quickly learns that Celeste is as different as everyone says she is, and when things began to break inexplicably and get moved around their room though no one but the two of them go in it, she believes Celeste to be doing it herself for attention. While nursing a crush on Celeste's overprotective but adorable brother David, Leena struggles with Celeste's seemingly deteriorating mental faculties and begins to genuinely wonder if her problems are psychological or supernatural in nature.

Frost is a story we enter into expecting the bitter chill of unease to settle into our bones as we read in a state of prolonged apprehension for the ghosts of the mind or those of Frost House itself to raise pebbles on our skin, but instead we find ourselves waiting a bit in vain. Things progress very slowly for Leena and Celeste, and while this pace gives our minds plenty of time to conjure any number of potential scenarios and outcomes, it does make this a read that is fairly easy to put down and pick back up at a later time. Little events happen here and there to make us question whether Frost House is haunted or if a mind addled by a pill addiction is responsible for everything, yet those little happenings never really turn into anything larger and we lose the compulsion to read faster to discover the truth once it seems things are going to stay pretty even keel.

The characters themselves remain a bit elusive, never fully drawing us into their lives with a strong emotional pull or letting us in deep enough so we feel as though we're an intrinsic, if invisible, addition to their lives. Reading about Leena, Celeste, and David is like seeing them reflected in a carnival house of mirrors–we get to view them from different sides and all angles, but when we reach out to touch them we encounter a smooth, impenetrable barrier that leaves us a little sensory deprived. Ms. Baer's characters are certainly well-constructed and well-written, they just seem to be missing the extra spark that makes us want to chatter to anyone who will listen about how unique and memorable they are.

Overall, Ms. Baer does an impressive job of blurring the line between reality and illusion, keeping us constantly unsure as to whether or not what is happening can actually be believed or if there is perhaps a more rational explanation. Though this story never quite gets our hearts pounding or our muscles vibrating with tension, it's still an interesting read that will surely appeal to readers who favor quieter stories where each person can choose to put stock in their own version of events, interpreting as they will and never fully trusting what their told.

Rating: 3/5


  1. Interesting. This sounds a little like Tighter. I don't really like the slow pacing and less-than-memorable characters, but you do have me intrigued with your last paragraph. Maybe I'll give it a try sometime. Thanks for the info!

  2. Great review Jenny. I've seen most reviews say this felt a little flat to them. Your review seems to say what they couldn't quite put into words. Thanks! This will be a library read.


  3. This has such an interesting premise it is a shame that the plot doesn't captivate you and keep you turning the pages. Great honest review Jenny :)

  4. Well this seems as if it falls short of the expectations I have had in my head. Too bad. Lovely review Jenny, may just pass on this one.

  5. I have to admit from the blurb, I would not pick it up. It seems to "popular" girl having to put up with "eccentric" girl while crushing on her brother. Those type of stories irk me. The is it or isn't it illusion is definitely interesting and unique. Great review, it definitely gave more insight than the original blurb.

  6. While the pacing and the uneventful plot makes me hesitant to pick this one up, I'm intrigued by the blending of truth and illusion. I think I'll give this one a shot.

  7. Small - It was a bit like Tighter in the pacing and the questions as to whether or not we could trust the narrator:)

    Heather - It wasn't quite as creepy as I was anticipating and I didn't really connect to any of the characters. Just not for me I guess:)

    Nic - I think it will appeal to a lot of people, I was just a little bored because the creepy things that happened weren't all that creepy. I understand she couldn't go over the top scary or we wouldn't be able to question whether it was real or not, but I just wanted a little something more.

    Jan - It was good, it just didn't blow me away. It'd be a good library read:)

    Felicia - I liked that the ending was open and you could make up your own mind as to what you believe, but the rest of it didn't work as well for me.

    Rummanah - I liked that we couldn't really trust Leena to tell us what's really going on, that was the highlight for me:)

  8. This book definitely kept me guessing, I didn't know what was going on in that house. I also totally agree about the characters not having that spark. Great review, as always!

  9. I have this book to read soon. I read others reviews and have been thinking that it may not itrigued me as much as I thought it would. Thanks for the review!

  10. I was supposed to read this one for the tour, but the book never made its way to me. I like books that blur that line and mess with your mind a bit, but no emotional connection to the characters? Eeeee, could be a deal breaker. Lovely and honest review, as always, Jenny.

  11. I really enjoyed Frost! I do agree a bit on the character detachment, but otherwise I think I like it more than you did. :P Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Your reviews are always brilliant. :)

  12. You still make it sound interesting enough to pick up. I did win the book so I'll see. I was just hoping for something much more. I think it is the lack of really connecting to the character that makes it more of a loss. You need that in a story like this one. Shame.

  13. Christy - It kept me guessing too, I just wanted a bit more from Leena:)

    Savy - You're welcome, I'll be interested to see what you think!

    Linds - It never made it to me either but I was able to snag a copy at BEA. I didn't really connect to Leena at all, I kept waiting to find myself invested and it didn't happen. Still an intriguing book though.

    Lauren - I think maybe I read some action packed ones before I picked this book up so the slowness of it was more noticeable:)

    Melissa - Thanks! I was hoping for a little bit more too, I'll keep an eye out for your review of it!

  14. Well dang! I'm not sure what to think, I hate when I have no connection to characters!!! I love how honest and freaking fabulously awesome you are in all your reviews!!! <3

  15. Hooray - finally some time to catch up on blogs and I so enjoyed reading this review Jenny.

    Your thoughts about the characters being impenetrable, definitely gives me pause, because as someone who is a huge fan of character development and getting to know characters, I love being able to get a sense that, even when I'm reading a series, the characters are still very accessible, if that makes sense.

    Having said that, I'd probably give this a read, but won't be pushing it to the top of my TBR pile just yet! Great review Jenny

  16. Nothing says read me with this one so it might just be one of those books. But I should give the genre more chances

  17. Usually, I'm not one for ghost stories, but since I'm always questioning reality, this sounds like one I should consider.

  18. I like that it's hard to question what's an illusion and what's reality with this one but the plot sounds slow. It's also too bad that you couldn't connect with the characters. Great review, Jenny!

  19. Ashley - Thank you *hugs your face*

    Tammy - YAY YOU'RE BACK! Characters are always my favorite part of a story, and they were just lacking a tiny bit in this one for me:(

    Blodeuedd - It's well written and I would read more of this author, this one just didn't wow me.

    Missie - I did like that it was hard to tell if things were really happening or if someone was doing it to themselves or what. That was the most interesting part:)

    Zahida - It was definitely a bit slow for me, and while that added to the eerie quality, I wanted a bit more action.

  20. It sounds kind of so-so. I don't mind a plot that is middle ground, but then I would need characters that yank my heart and never let go. If I finish a book and can't remember the character's names than it really wasn't that good. This sounds a bit like that. It sounds okay though. I may give it a try when I get to the bottom of the MOUND that is my TBR. :D I do love your reviews, Jenny.

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

  21. Thank you for such a descriptive review! This was actually my WOW.

  22. This is a really great review, really well thought out and written. I'm not quite sure what to think of this book, but it seems like you had a few of those issues yourself. I just lent it to someone and we'll see if I get to it on my TBR pile.

  23. I haven't finished this yet, but I'm a little weird-ed out by Celeste and David's relationship. Also, Leena's role as a counselor is making me nervous.

  24. Hum...I was kind of hoping that the pacing would be a bit faster and draw me in. That's what it sounded like it would do, anyway. I think this'll be a might-read.
    Mary @ BookSwarm

  25. I liked this one but I can definitely see where you are coming from. =) The characters were a bit hard to connect to and not many shocking, creepy events happened until the end. Awesome review Jenny!!

  26. I think this book would be super creepy if it could just draw you in far enough. However, it still sounds like one our older students would like, a nice way to ease yourself into the creepy. :)

  27. I'm not sure that I would like this. I tend to want characters that I can connect with and fast pacing. But this might be good for a read when I know I have to pick it and put it down a lot. Thanks for the great review!