Meira, You are Not a Solider (Okay, Maybe You Are): Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Source: GoodReads

I was planning on having a major hate review for this book that is until I got through the first third and it just sort of became better and then I couldn’t really put it down.

So what does this given this book.

A mixed review?

Well, a review that is going to be for the most part mostly positive, but at the same time it does have some major, major issues.

I think I’ll discuss the first fourth.  What bothered me about it.  Well, Meira seemed awfully whiny and had the whole Quest for Camelot  I want to be a knight mantra going on.  And there were some extreme well isn’t that convenient moments in the first part of the novel.

Those sort of things are bothersome and are almost get an instant fail rating from me, but somehow Raasch saved the book and for that I have to give her praise.  Because it was a pretty bleak beginning. Seriously.  Lots and lots of shocked praise.

So, how did miracles upon miracles occur?

Well, there was some major character development and the main character had to sort of face that she wasn’t as big of a bad ass as she thought she was.  Of course, we find out she has some secrets that sort of had me rolling my eyes, but  the way all of it is revealed is pretty great.

There’s just something about this prose that makes this book readable and makes me ignore all the tropes.  This is a very readable book especially for a fantasy.

That probably helped its case.

What else helped its case was that the tropes that usually get to me were minimized to a certain degree.

Take the love triangle (if you can even call it that).  The romance in this book was minimized to such a level, I didn’t even care that both characters had names weirder than America Singer.  Plus, more focus was put on family relationships which I have to say is refreshing for a YA book.

The relationship between Meira and her surrogate father, Sir, is actually quite interesting to read about.   I have to give Raasch points for trying to develop a relationship other than the romantic one.  And I like what she did with these two and how it was overarching throughout the entire book.

Honestly, at the end of the book I was a little surprise with the twist Raasch made.  Yes, I get it YA is driven by sequels-much like the Hollywood-but this book would’ve been fine as a standalone.  I thought it covered a lot and we saw a good portion of the fantasy world Raasch had set up.  But I guess I can be willing to give the sequel a try.  Maybe it will sort of flesh out the world some more.

The world building that is done isn’t awful, but it’s not great.  I just felt like I really never got an explanation for this world.

Like while I got somewhat of an idea how this world and their kingdoms were derived, I still had a lot of questions.  Like why seasons?  And rhythms?  There was never any explanation behind that.  Also, why was Winter hated so much amongst the other kingdoms?  And why didn’t the queen tell a certain character the truth about the McGuffin so that the McGuffin quest could’ve been…

Won’t go further.

Spoilers, you know.

I did like this book though.  Warts and all.  And I think a lot of people will like it.  The thing is, the more that I think about it, the more annoyed I get.  If I just read the book straight through though I’m completely fine with it.

Yeah, it’s that sort of book.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

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