Eight Steps to Write a Cliche YA Fantasy: Frostblood by Elly Blake

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The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Source: GoodReads

I remember when I read Red Queent that I commented that it was pretty much standard cliche YA fantasy.  However, I’ll give Red Queen credit for being mildly entertaining and attempting to try something because after reading Frost Blood it seems like its not trying one fucking bit.

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 I know, I already wrote a recipe for cliche YA fantasy with with Red Queen, but hey, since YA fantasy isn’t being original why should I be that original with my reviews.  For those of you who want the Red Queen derivative of the recipe you can click here.  So, without further ado here’ s how you can make your very standard very cliche YA Fantasy using these ten eight easy steps with  Frost Blood as a guidepost :

Step One You Must Have a  MC with a Special Power or Some Sort of Specialness.  

In this case, we have Ruby and her power is the power of fire.  Get it, ’cause her name is Ruby.  I should’ve added that her name has some symbolism shit involved in it, but I’m not.  Her power is like forbidden in this fantasy dystopian world that makes her ultra special, especially since everyone is killing fire bloods off.

Step 2 The MC’s Family Gets Killed or Put into Dangerous Peril Which Gets MC in Some Dicey Situation

Check. Check. Check.  Ruby’s mom gets killed within the span of fifteen pages and she’s thrown into jail accordingly.

Step 3 MC is Rescued by Mysterious Rebel Group

Yep, by two hooded figures one’s an old  monk and the other’s a grumpy guy that has a tragic backstory.  You can totally tell that the old monk’s going to be the love interest, right?

That’s sarcasm by the way.

Of course, the old monk’s not the love interest its the rude broody guy who keeps his face covered-we later learn becuase he’s disfigured.  But still has breathtaking eyes-’cause you know this is YA and these books have to be a little bit shallow.

Step 4 MC Has “Problems” Controlling Her Power But Essentially Solves Them in a Book Montage

Because we need a montage…..every book’s got to have a montage…but without a catchy theme song unfortunately.  No just boring passing of time scenarios where the MC does boring shit for a few pages and we are told she has control over her powers with not really any progress shown save for maybe the occasional scene of verbal banter.  She just needs  that to get good enough to deal with the ridiculous tournament/competition that happens in these books because said tournament in Hunger Games, Throne of Glass,  etc. (though I digress about Throne of Glass, but people disagree with me so…)

Step 5 The Ridiculously Hard Tournament/Gladiator-ish Competition that Our MC Defies the Odds

‘Cause we have to show the MC is bad ass.  Of course, she’ll struggle a bit but you know she’ll survive when no one else does…  Also, again Huger Games and Throne of Glass did it so we should do it too.

Step 6 Someone in the book has a secret royalty

Big spoiler twist it’s not the MC, but there’s always the second book.  And considering little was said about daddy dearest I’m sure that bombshell is a coming.

Step 7 Standard Fantasy Prophecy Made about Saving the World

Enough said.

Step 8 Obligatory Sequel Even Though Book is Resolved

Uh, duh. $$$$

Okay, I tried to think of two more steps but totally failed at that. The OCD part of me is annoyed though because I wanted a whole ten steps of cliches, but considering this book has two more installments coming out I think there’s plenty of room for it to fit more cliches in here.

The thing is even though Frost Blood is extraordinary cliche, the writings not half bad.  I was able to get through it pretty fast-grant it, after about page 200 I started skimming pretty hard.  Mainly, because the book was so bland.  There were no interesting characters, they were all pretty much your typical archetypes of a YA fantasy.  And honestly, after I finished reading Frost Blood  I just felt a mixture of sadness and anger.

Has the trend on YA fantasy gotten to the point where anything that’s halfway decently written with the requisite tropes tends to get published?

With Frost Blood it would seem that way.

And honestly, I shouldn’t be that surprised.  The same thing happened when YA paranormal got oversaturated, the YA dystopia, and New Adult.  So, it really shouldn’t surprise me that the fantasy shared the same fate.

The thing is, it just seems more glaring obvious to me with high fantasy than those other genres. I think maybe it’s because the sky’s sort of the limit with this genre.  And YA tends to take it in only one direction. Does that mean, I don’t expect to see tropes?

No.

I get it that tropes are going to be a part of most things, but its how you utilize them and make them your own.  And unfortunately, it seems with YA fantasy that’s not the case.

Overall Rating: A C- hardly original but it’s not the worst thing I ever read.

2017 Is Off to a Decent Start: The Secret of A Heart Note by Stacey Lee

An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs

Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.

At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.

Source: GoodReads

This book was the perfect way to start off my 2017 reading list.  It wasn’t a perfect book mind you, but it was a nice book to read on a quiet New Year’s Day and I really enjoyed it.  Though, I’ll be honest I don’t think it will probably be a very memorable read in the long run.

Prior to this book, I had only read one Stacey Lee book and I wasn’t exactly a fan.  I think in a lot of ways because it relied so heavily on dialect and I’m not a big fan of dialect.

This book though didn’t use dialect and I thought it had a very interesting concept with it’s aroma witches.  Honestly, when I was reading it I thought this would be a pretty good Hallmark movie.  And I could see it being made as one, save for the fact that the protagonist is a teen and Hallmark protagonists are like constantly 30 somethings but whatever.

But it had that same sleepy, lighthearted quality about it that made it enjoyable.  The protagonist is likable-though not that memorable-and her relationship with the love interest was also cute.  I also liked the world building was with this one.

Save for the aroma magic stuff, it could very much be a contemporary.  There were plenty of subplots that were contemporary based-the falling out with relatives, Mim and her mother’s relationship, the romance.  But the way that magic incorporated the book wasn’t annoying either.

I think one of the reasons why The Secret of a Heart Note worked for me was that the paranormal elements weren’t so do or die like they are in a lot of young adult novels.  It was refreshing to read how out of the world elements could be wrapped up into every day life.

Were there some things about this book that I didn’t like.

Well, yeah.

I did think the ending seemed a little rushed with how some of the familiar relationships were resolved and I wasn’t exactly a fan of how the magic situation was resolved either.  Though to be honest, on the whole magic subplot concerning Mim’s nose I sort of falter back and forth about the conclusion of it.  At times I got annoyed because it was an easy fix to what seemed like a huge problem.  But on the other hand, I sort of liked that the problem wasn’t near as catastrophic as it was described to be.

I think if you want something on the lighter side you should give this one a try.  I enjoyed it, though releasing it in winter might’ve been a mistake on the publisher’s plot.  The book really reads spring to me.  Still, as my first 2017 read I can’t complain (that much).

Overall Rating: A B+