Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Review: THE ICE QUEEN by Alice Hoffman

Rating: 1.5/5 stars

I've really enjoyed a lot of Alice Hoffman's middle-grade books in the past, such as the Green Angel series, Aquamarine and Indigo, Nightbird, and especially Incantation, which is my most-read book to date (I think I've read it five times so far). I had never read any of her adult books though, that is until now. I actually own about ten or fifteen novels from Hoffman that I have yet to read, and for some reason, I expected to love them because I love her novels for kids so much, but if The Ice Queen is any indication, her best works are the ones I've already read. 

I couldn't get on board with this book. Very, very early on I didn't feel like I was going to like it, mostly because the entire beginning of the story is all telling and no showing. Our protagonist, who as far as I can tell remains unnamed, tells us her entire life story in minimal detail, including the moment when she wished for her mother to die and then she died later that day. Even though the writing style was so bland at that point, I believe in giving books a fair chance, so I continued reading. 

But the telling instead of showing never went away! The whole book (at least as far as I read before I decided I wasn't enjoying it enough to finish it, which was at 40% of the way through) is like this and it's awful. I wanted to feel connected to the characters, I wanted to feel like I understood them and were in their minds, but I never did. I actually really did not like our protagonist at all. 

So back to the story: one day she mentions to her brother that she wishes she could get struck by lightning, and, you guessed it, she later gets struck by lightning. This causes her to essentially become "the ice queen" because everything in her life becomes cold, literally, and she loses seeing the color red (associated with heat). She then seeks out another lightning-struck victim named Lazarus, who had the opposite reaction: he is basically on fire, his skin being so hot that it literally burns our protagonist. 

Basically, they have a weird love affair, which was very uncomfortable for me and is the point at which I stopped the book. I normally have no issues with sensual relationships in stories but for some reason, it really bothered me here. It felt so unnatural and I did not want to read about it at all. 

Ultimately, I realized I did not care enough about this book or the story to finish reading it. It was all around an unenjoyable experience for me and I dreaded having to pick it up again every time I stopped reading. The story is obviously full of magical realism, which I think is Alice Hoffman's forte, but I'm starting to think it's just not the genre for me because I have read many magical realism books in the past that have sounded so good but only disappointed me in the end. I'm not done giving Alice Hoffman's adult novels a chance yet, purely because I own so many of them, but if I have the same experience next time, I might just have to stick to her middle-grade books only from then on. 

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