Author: Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic
Series: Heart of Dread (Book 1)
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
ISBN-10: 0399257543 (Penguin Teen)
ISBN-13: 978-0399257544 (Penguin Teen)
Reviewed by: Bridget
From New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston comes this remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic.
Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.
At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she’s heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.
But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.
Quick & Dirty: Wonderful post apocalyptic story with engaging characters, intense action, intriguing plot, and filled with an adorable romance. I enjoyed every minute of this book and would highly recommend it to YA fans.
Opening Sentence: They were coming for her.
The world has turned to ice or at least most of the ground. The ocean is full of trash and pollution. Almost all plants, animals, and any living species have ceased to exist as it once was. The planet only has one temperature and that is freezing. Now humans have flocked to some of the only surviving cities and it is survival of the fittest. Everyone now has grey eyes and brown hair, if you have any other eye color you are one of the marked. The marked are born with special powers that range from telepathic to being able to fly. It is said that they are descendants from sylph, a magical people that everyone fears. Anyone that is marked is considered dangerous and needs to be contained by the government. The world is slowly dying and the only hope is the strange rumors of the Blue. Legend says that there is still a land with blue skies and the warm sun, but no one really knows where it is. Supposedly, there is a doorway in the middle of the ocean, but the journey is full of unspeakable dangers.
Natasha Kestal , more commonly known as Nat is a blackjack dealer in New Vegas. She escaped from the institution for the marked and has disguised herself to look like a normal human. She has been biding her time waiting for the right moment to leave New Vegas and try to get to the mysterious land she has heard about. She is lucky enough to stumble across a map that is suppose to lead her to “the blue” and now all she needs is someone to take her there.
Ryan Wesson is ex-army and now he is a runner. Runners are illegal crews that take people wherever they want to go for a price. It’s not the most honest work, but they have to get food somehow. Wes may do some shady things, but he is also known to be very honorable. This is what leads Nat to pick Wes as her runner to get her out of New Vegas. They have a very dangerous journey ahead of them full of deceit, betrayal, and surprisingly love.
The story alters between Nat and Wes’s POV. First you get to meet Nat and I absolutely adored her. She is a very strong character with a good voice and a spunky personality. She always has a comeback and is full of witty charm. She is brave and smart. She was orphaned at a young age and raised in the army to do unthinkable things. Then she was locked up in a prison for the marked. She was able to escape, but finding the Blue is her only chance at happiness. Captain Ryan Wesson is a pain, but Nat can’t help but be drawn to him. She knows that it will only end in heartbreak, but she can’t seem to stay away. Everything about her character was fun and easy to connect with. I can’t wait to read more of her story.
I instantly fell in love with Wes. He is gorgeous, charming, cocky, sweet, honorable, loyal, and just an amazing character. He also has a very sad past that has lead him down a road that he’s not totally proud of. He lives a rough life and has secrets that he doesn’t care to share with anyone else. Nat piques an interest in him that he hasn’t felt in a very long time. Relationships have never worked out well for Wes and he knows that it would be no different with Nat. Their relationship is full of lots of tension, witty banter, and some really sweet moments. I loved watching their romance develop through the pages, it was done perfectly. I am really looking forward to getting to know more about Wes and his story in the next book.
This was a really fun read for me. Once I picked it up, I had a hard time putting it down. There was great action and a very intriguing plot line. The setting was post apocalyptic but it had a magical touch to it as well. I loved the cast of characters in this book. There were a lot of secondary characters that I didn’t mention that played a very important part to the story as well, and I am looking forward to seeing more of them in the sequel. The writing was very captivating and the book flowed perfectly. There really wasn’t anything that I didn’t love about this book. The ending left you satisfied but still wanting a lot more. This was a very good read for me and I would highly recommend it to anyone that is a fan of YA books.
Nat didn’t know what to make of Ryan Wesson–whether she wanted to slap him or kiss him. Slap him, definitely. He looked so smug, standing at her doorway, with his hair slicked back and his collar turned up, a gun belt strapped low on his hips, his beat-up vest shrugged off his shoulders like some kind of snow cowboy, grinning as if he’d won the fireball lottery.
She’d just left the casino that evening, only a few hours after closing the deal with Shakes, and while she had impressed upon him her need to leave immediately, she was still surprised at how quickly Wes had appeared.
“Hey there, remember me?” His voice was low and pleasantly hoarse, sexy, she thought, just like all the rest of him. Nat shoved the thought out of her mind. He’s a runner and a con man, she reminded herself. A liar.
“How could I forget?” she asked.
“Ryan Wesson,” he said, offering a hand.
“Like the gun or the cooking oil?”
His grin broadened. “What about you, Nat? Like the insect or the princess?”
Heart of Dread Series:
FTC Advisory: Putnam Juvenile/Penguin provided me with a copy of Frozen. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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