Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Series: Vampire Academy #2
Published by Penguin Group USA and Audible on April 10th, 2008
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Vampires, Young Adult
Length: 8 hrs and 47 mins
Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose...
It’s winter break at St. Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians—including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks... This year, St. Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.
But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price...
Those of you who’ve been around for a bit longer may remember my adventures in reading Vampire Academy as a vampire hater, practically on a dare. Though I found the overall experience likable enough, I wasn’t exactly over the moon enough to binge the series right away – and I certainly didn’t understand the hype. But this is where a different format can totally come in to save the day!
I’m SO glad I decided to listen to this on audio. It has multiple benefits for me. First, I didn’t feel like I was spending that much time or concentration on it because I could multitask a little – a definite plus since I wasn’t sold on the series. Second, it definitely improved upon critiques I had for the first book in the series. For example, the writing style was not as glaringly juvenile for me. As enjoyable as this series may be, the writing itself can leave something to be desired – it’s not beautifully descriptive with engrossing imagery – but on audio, that’s not as apparent because it’s easier for me to get swept up in the general storytelling. In addition, Rose didn’t bother me so much anymore as a character, because I felt like the narrator, Khristine Hvam, did a great job of emulating her voice. Other reviews on this audiobook have noted that the narration isn’t that great – especially in comparison to the audiobook of Vampire Academy – which leaves me feeling even more secure, because I loved Khristine’s narrations, and if this is considered not that great for audiobook listeners, I can only assume it’s going to get better for me as I further explore the format.
But okay, you don’t just want to hear my thoughts about the performance. The book itself was also a marked improvement upon Vampire Academy. Again, most of my hesitance about the book was because of Rose – I just thought she was a judgmental bitch who crossed the line into too-cocky territory a few times too often, but it was immediately apparent in Frostbite that she had grown up quite a bit. When she does get into conflicts and confrontations, she actually frequently recognizes her impulses to react in a rash way and thinks about Dimitri’s lessons to determine the right way to react. It doesn’t always work, but she’s improving – she’s controlling her recklessness and thinking first – before acting. I could finally see why people like Rose, because with the cockiness dialed down, she does have a feisty, fun, and outspoken personality that I feel is easy to understand. I definitely feel like Khristine’s performance helped in that regard as well.
Frostbite also sees the introduction of a few new characters, the most notable of which has to be Adrian. I’m intrigued and also conflicted, because I immediately recognized that this guy was coming in to serve as the other corner for the love triangle. However, he has a teasing, mysterious personality that does keep you entertained. He actually had me smirking a fair few times – and I enjoyed the banter between him and Rose. However, I’m pretty sure (like 99.99999%) that Dimitri is end-game soooo I just already see the predictable drama-llama and jealousy stuff. It’s pretty tame in this installment, but I’m sure it’ll come back later with a vengeance. Dimitri in this installment is notably absent, because he’s trying to keep himself away from Rose. I do feel like it’s benefiting their legitimacy as a long term ship though, because they are careful about all the implications that their involvement would have, but at the same time they recognize the undeniable chemistry between them. All I can really say about them is… that I wish there had been more scenes between them. Whoops, guess I have to continue with Shadow Kiss.
I also feel like we got to know Rose better due to the appearance of her mother in Frostbite. They have a very icy relationship and are basically estranged from each other. They just don’t know how to communicate, and when things turn sour, Rose recognizes that she needs to try harder in this and let go of the prejudices she held against her mother. That definitely helped me gain another level of respect for her as a character, while also sympathizing with her immensely. I’m not gonna lie, that scene on the way back from Spokane did make me feel some feelings in my heartspace.
However, where the series continues to leave me wanting more is the plot. Frostbite starts off pretty suspenseful, with the brutal murders of one of the royal families of the Moroi, but soon… that’s kind of just in the background while everyone goes to a ski-lodge for the Christmas holidays. Like. Seriously. And then it’s just romantic drama as Rose is conflicted about her feelings for Dimitri, tries to forget about him through Mason (who deserves way better because he’s a legit good guy), and is introduced to the mysterious Adrian. Jealousy ensues from multiple sides. Then Rose tries to pick up the pieces and not lead anyone on, which leads to disappointed characters and arguments. Though I could kind of brush this off (mostly because I was listening to it and didn’t have to pay TOO close attention), I know it would have bothered me much more in print.
Finally, at around 70%, things start happening again, and it was disappointingly predictable. I called pretty much every single thing that happened, because it was like a bad horror movie, where you’re screaming at the TV, “NO GIRL DO NOT GO IN THERE THAT IS A BAD IDEA!” and then she does and then she’s attacked and just *facepalm*. The bad guys are typically bad. The fighting is over before you know it. And ultimately very little else about the world – and the Strigoi – is revealed. Though I liked that the elemental magic was expanded on, it was almost too minor to note. And like, the Moroi finally decided that they should use their magic to be able to fight on their own instead of just relying on Guardians? Like, REALLY? How was it so hard to think about that before now??? You like to keep your pure-blooded vampires intentionally weak and dependent on others? DUDE.