I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Well, that was a roller coaster ride of a story or maybe I would be better off comparing it to a house of horrors!
Lately I have been reading a lot of post apocalyptic novels and those are always emotionally draining so I thought I would get a nice break from emotional torture with this book. I read Rouge, the first book in the series, and while it had some emotional moments, for the most part it was a pretty straight forward Young Adult romance with paranormal elements. I didn’t like the main character Hunter because she was snotty and ungrateful, but I liked the book. I also got the feeling that Hunter would experience some personal growth and become a more likable person as the series progressed.
I assumed that Embers and Ice would be similar to Rouge in when it came to the overall tone and writing style of the book, but it really feels like these stories were written by two completely different people. Rouge was a 4 star read for me because it was a cute story about the origins of a potential super hero. It was light-hearted even though it dealt with some heavy subject matter. Hunter’s relationship with Eli was adorable but nothing special, and I felt like some of the mysteries, like who the villain was, were somewhat obvious.
Embers and Ice, however, was a very dark and gritty novel. I’m not sure if I can even classify this as a superhero book; in fact, I’m not sure how to classify it! I’ve never read a story that combined these elements so well. There were plenty of people with superhuman abilities, but the pain that they felt was so very human in nature. It was almost too difficult to read because I felt so much empathy for these people.
When our story left off and the end of Rouge, Hunter had just dealt with what I assumed would be the most painful and difficult fight of her life. If you haven’t read Rouge and don’t want spoilers, now would be the time for you to stop reading my review; however, I won’t spoil anything that pertains to Embers and Ice.
Hunter is trying to pick up the pieces after she finds out that Joshua, the man who has raised her since she was born, is some sort of mad villain who killed the love of her life. She is in a very raw and sensitive place emotionally, and she has no one to help her deal with the pain so she just sort of floats through life in a daze. No sooner than she decides to begin the grieving process and pick up the pieces of her shattered life, than she is kidnapped and imprisoned by the diabolical Dr, Wolfe, a man who is so evil that he makes Joshua look like a puppy! Dr. Wolfe runs an “institution” that
imprisons houses and tortures experiments on people with special abilities. While at the institute, Hunter meets a group of about 20 children and young adults who have a wide variety of amazing abilities.
I was very pleased with the way all of these different characters were introduced. I am easy to confuse when I first start reading anything so I hate it when I have to keep track of a large number of people, but for some reason that wasn’t a problem with this book. I think it is because they were all introduced in memorable ways. Everyone had their own distinct personality and look to go along with their powers, and it was very easy to keep them all straight in my head.
The most important person that Hunter meets in the institute, however, is Will. If you read my review of Rouge, then you know that I was underwhelmed with Hunter’s relationship with Eli. It felt like he was more like her pet than her soul mate. He calmed her down and helped her feel normal, but the fact of the matter is that Hunter is far from normal. She is a teenage girl who could have an entire neighborhood engulfed in flames in a matter of minutes just because she’s in a bad mood. The girl isn’t normal, she will never be normal, and thank goodness for that, because normal make for boring reading. No, Hunter does not need to feel like a normal girl. She need to feel like the beautiful and emotionally screwed up freak of nature that she is, and that is exactly who she gets to be with Will. They have a connection that runs deep. Even Will’s power compliment’s Hunters. She would never have to worry about getting too overheated when she kisses him like she did with Eli because Will is immortal. Well, maybe not immortal because, as far as I can tell, He still ages at a normal rate, but he heals incredibly fast so he can handle it if Hunter accidentally burns him. They have amazing chemistry and it’s not based solely on a physical attraction. Hunter needs Will and Will needs Hunter, but they need each other in a healthy way. It’s a symbiotic relationship, they don’t hurt and confuse one another. Maybe it is because they had so much horror and pain to deal with on a daily basis, but the normal whiny and annoying crap that usually accompanies relationships in Young Adult novels was refreshingly missing with Hunter and Will. their relationship was absolutely beautiful to read about, and I hope it continues to grow in the upcoming installments to this series.
Joshua also experienced a lot of character development in this book. You may have noticed at the end of Rouge that he might not be quite as evil as Hunter was lead to believe and perhaps his powers have more of a control over him then he does over it. You also know that Hunter’s boyfriend Eli and her teacher Jenny aren’t as dead as we thought. It’s no big spoiler that both Eli and Jenny wake up, but I won’t tell you what condition they are in when they do. The direction the author chose to take the characters of both Jenny and Eli are just as interesting as how Joshua and Hunter grew.
I learned a lot about every single character in this book, and I truly can’t believe it was written by the same author. Rouge was good, but Embers and Ice was outstanding. This is the type of beautifully disturbing book that I rarely expect to find. I can’t imagine how the author could possibly top herself in the third installment, but I challenge her to try.
The only real complaint I have is about the ending. There is a cliffhanger, but it isn’t a particularly bad cliffhanger. You know who’s alive and who’s dead so that has nothing to do with my complaint. My complaint comes from the fact that this was a gut wrenching book to read from beginning to end! It never gives me a moment to feel like Hunter is going to truly be okay. Don’t get me wrong, she has moments of happiness and peace, some are supplied by her interactions with others, but most come from her own internal growth. I just became really attached to her while reading this and I want to be okay.
I can’t recommend this book enough to fans of well-developed superhero origins, romance, and action, but mostly,you should read this book if you like reading about the ability of the human spirit to find joy, peace, and strength even in the most horrific of circumstances.
Because of language, violence, and content, I would recommend this book for ages 15 and up. There was no explicit sexual content, but there is mention of rape.