Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: Frost by Marianna Baer

Book: Frost by Marianna Baer
Release Date: 13 Sep 2011
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Summary: Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school begins with a shock: Frost House, her cozy dorm of close friends, has been assigned an unexpected roommate: confrontational, eccentric Celeste Lazar. But while Leena’s anxiety about a threat to her sanctuary proves valid, it becomes less and less clear whether the threat lies with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind, or within the very nature of Frost House itself. Mysterious happenings in the dorm, an intense triangle between Leena, Celeste, and Celeste’s brother, and the reawakening of childhood fears, all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. Frost is the story of a haunting. As to whether the demons are supernatural or psychological . . . well, which answer would let you sleep at night?
Buy It: Hardcover or Kindle eBook


Review: I trapped myself when I read Frost. I went in knowing that I dislike boarding school atmospheres and overly dramatic characters/plots but the idea of a YA psychological mystery that is possibly paranormal made me throw caution to the wind. Sadly, my frustration with aspects that I knew were going to bother me overshadowed everything else. I believe that readers who enjoy cattiness, drama and angst will love every page of Frost. Every little bit of it had me tearing hair out though which isn't fair to the author at all. Baer is a wonderful writer and had Frost not included everyday teenage behavior, I would have loved the book. I completely recognize that I'm putting the author in an impossible situation: no drama makes it not a believable boarding school and including drama drives me batty.

Celeste was an engaging character. I've definitely never encountered another quite like her. Some things about her were just so far out there, like the cockroaches, that I'd consider her ridiculous for a moment. Then Baer would do a complete turn about making Celeste completely believable and real like when her father is mentioned. I enjoyed that not only was Frost a psychological book on Leena's end, but psychology, illness and just plain eccentricity were included as well.

I thought it was amazing how well written each character was, especially Leena. None of the characters were similar to me or made choices that I would have in their situation but I could still sympathize with each of them. There were several times where I wanted to shake Leena for doing or saying something but after it was said and done, I felt sad, frustrated, upset etc. right along with her instead of my previous annoyance at her decision. A few times I even wished I had been there to defend her because her hurt was so palpable.

I wish Baer had chosen something else to make the spooky, haunted place other than the closet of Leena and Celeste's room. Every time something odd or frightening happened I would just eye roll away because, come on, it's a closet. Smelling like death, the door randomly shutting or it seemingly whispering to you would have been eery occurrences if not for it being a closet. They're cliche but I would have preferred a basement, attic or hidden trapdoor or room. Some of the things Leena did, like how she would just stand in there, made the closet even more silly.

Cockroaches. Dead. At least a hundred. Shiny brown with spindly legs. On my bed.
A roar filled my ears.
“Celeste!”
There were dead cockroaches.
On my bed.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the carcasses. Some as big as two inches long. Legs and antennae and slippery-looking abdomens. A battlefield. I shivered violently, as if all those tiny legs were crawling on my skin, scrabbling up my arms and my spine and my neck.
This was not interesting. It was repulsive.
“Celeste!” I yelled again.
I heard the flush of the toilet. Celeste came thumping in.
“I know, I know. Sorry,” she said in a blasé voice. “I needed to see if they all arrived okay.”

She turned the roach so his head faced me, turned him back, and wiggled him so he appeared to be nodding at her.
“Okay,” she said. Then she smiled. “Leena! I’m so happy to be living with you.”


Rating: 2½ Bites (Good -- Just okay)

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