Monday, November 24, 2014

Snow Like Ashes Review

I'm just shy of half-way through Snow Like Ashes and I loathe it utterly.  I've been wrestling back and forth over whether or not I should finish this book — the only reason I'd continue is so that I could write an informed review. But, I have a feeling that I'm not going to warm up to this story...

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It's about thirty minutes later and I've come to a decision.  I can't keep going.  I just... disagree with every element of the book.  The plot, the characterizations, the style, the dialogue, the descriptions.  Everything is pissing me off.

It's not often that I react with anger to a book. Yet, that's what's happening.  It could very well be that I'm PMS-ing right now.  If that's the case, then my sincere apologies to Sara Raasch. But, right now, I'm going to write the only kind of review I'm capable of writing at the moment and that is an incoherent, harsh one.

It's time for a hate parade.
The Characters... are pissing me off! 

The protagonist, Meira, is driving me crazy.  She's a combination of over-confident and naive, which causes her to barrel into situations inappropriately. Moreover, I find myself figuring stuff out ages before Meira's character understands what's going on.  She's not the sharpest tool in the shed, and I'm not really into unintelligent characters. Also, she has this Xena Warrior Princess disc weapon that she won't shut up about. Her chakram. 

Or maybe no amount of training would change how awkward a sword feels in my hands and how much I love throwing my spinning circular blade of death—my chakram.
My arms are too rubbery from my windowsill catch to throw my chakram... 
I test my arms—not quite as shaky—and draw out my chakram, tightening my hand around the familiar, worn handle. 
I emerge from the staircase with my chakram...  
I lean forward to launch my chakram...
Before he mounts, he grabs my chakram off the walkway...
The child who waved swords around like awkward steel wings and showed absolutely no promise in fighting until I tried ranged weapons like my chakram...
I curse Herod a million times over for stealing my chakram. 
I shrug out of my chakram’s holster and drop it in the grass 
...something behind his eyes, something he’s barely holding on to, that makes me want to set my chakram to work ruining Noam’s pretty foyer. 
I rip off my travel clothes and pile the whole mess of things in the corner with my chakram guarding it on top.  
“We’re running?” I squeak, holstering my chakram
“He stole my chakram, though,” I say, grabbing at anything to lighten the mood. 
Okay, okay, I'm stopping now.  But the point is, these two words (my. chakram.) are used too much, and always together. It enrages me.

The Plot... is pissing me off!

It's a little similar to Melina Marchetta's Finnikin of the Rock.  (A kingdom falls; citizens are cut off from the homeland. A group of refugees, including a grizzled soldier and the royal heir, seek to reclaim their kingdom and see it rise again.) Also like Finnikin of the Rock, the logistics involved in getting the lost kingdom back are incomprehensible. In Snow Like Ashes, both halves of a really special locket need to be collected to bring back the magic. It's like something out of...

The Dialogue... is pissing me off!

What's going on with the dialogue is something I like to call "mall-casual." It goes terribly with a fantasy setting. 

The Style... is pissing me off!

Another thing that's really getting to me is the melodramatic reactions.  There's plenty of clutching, gritting, gasping, gripping, shouting, swallowing, choking, brightening, and blanching. There's jerking, slamming, striking, squeaking, and shuddering. Instead of bringing the story to life, it just makes the situations seem contrived and ridiculous. 

Part of me feels a little bad writing this mean-spirited review.  I mean, it's all well and good for me, writing this from my semi-anonymous seat. I'm aware that I'm ragging on Sara Raasch's baby. She had the sweetest dedication at the beginning of the book:

To everyone who read the first (horrible) draft of this story and did not laugh when twelve-year-old me said, “Someday, I’m going to get this published."
See? So, to end this rambling review on a less hateful note, I'm aware that a lot of people really like this book.  It has a 4.05 average rating on Goodreads, which is not shabby. What's up with me that I can't enjoy Snow Like Ashes?  Probably, it's just not my cup of tea. That, and PMS.

UPDATE: Oh GOD. Less than an hour after this review went up, Sara Raasch herself followed me on twitter.  I am now paranoid that she will read this review.  I want to hide under a rock.


  1. OMG. I was so annoyed with this one as well! I've visited a blog with your exact thoughts last week. I'm just so tired of fantasy novels featuring a heroine whose purpose is to unite two kingdoms. That in itself, is such a highly unoriginal trope. What annoys me even more is that she has to be married off to the prince to make this union happen. Ugh. And please, enough with silks and satin dresses! I did not like this one at all.

    This book is being compared to Graceling. If you've ever read that novel, you will die laughing. Because it is nowhere near the vicinity of Graceling. I'm so pissed that they're even comparing it to that book.

    I don't blame you, girl.

    1. YES! I forgot to mention how much the stupid dresses pissed me off! I'm relieved that you don't like this as well. I thought it might be super awkward if I was alone in disliking the book.

      And compared to Graceling? No, no, no. I mean, I can see how to book might aspire to Graceling, but it doesn't come close.