Frostbite is the second book in the Vampire Academy series, my favourite paranormal YA series. For Vampire Book Club's Reread Challenge, I reread and reviewed *cough*gushed over*cough* book one a couple weeks back, now it's Frostbite's turn. As then, review first followed by reread thoughts (and again, total gush fest, sorry!).
Rose is heading away from the Academy for the day to take her Qualifier. A combined interview and exam meant to discover if she's got the potential to be a guardian. But when she and her mentor Dimitri, arrive at their destination they're met with horror. The guardian they were meant to meet, along with the family he guarded, are dead. Killed by a group of Strigoi. The attack shocks the vampire world, groups of Strigoi working together is almost unheard of, causing mass panic through the Moroi and dhampir world.
For Rose and her friends, there could be worse things than a mandatory ski trip, if it were as simple as that. Rose's long absent mother, a very well respected guardian, has just reappeared and it's far from a happy reunion. Dimitri, Rose's mentor and big time crush, is maybe getting involved with someone else. Mason, one of Rose's best friends, is making his feelings for her clearer than ever. Lissa's happier romantic life is grating on Rose's nerves. And the repercussions from the Strigoi attack are fraying tempers, unrest within the Moroi and guardian ranks are starting to show.
Like Vampire Academy, I thoroughly enjoyed this from beginning to end. It's a great follow up to the first book continuing Rose's training, her personal and emotional development, and also taking a deeper look at the way the vampire world works, some of the politics, and the unjustness which is causing unrest. While VA showed hints of how the Moroi society worked, it becomes a focus in Frostbite.
There is continued character development, most obviously with Rose, but with several other big players as well. Rose faces big conflicts in Frostbite, with her mother and Dimitri in particular. There is an ongoing intensity involving them both, it's hard not to see why Rose reacts as she does at times. She's still short tempted, acting first and thinking second. However there are times when she does think before she acts, or realises herself that she's wrong and deals with it, showing some real maturity. It's a work in progress, with many ups and downs, but I love being along for the ride.
Some new characters made for some interesting twists here, but I also loved getting to know some of the side characters better as well. Frostbite was full of surprising twists, I couldn't put it down. The ending is heart pounding and heart breaking. It made me cry and cry some more. It was raw, honest and hopeful, and despite the painfulness of it, beautiful. No cliff hanger ending, but it certainly left me wanting a hell of a lot more.
My reread thoughts/comparisons start to stray in to spoiler territory, read at your own risk :)
First time through:
Rose: She's growing a lot, but feel really bad for her with Dimitri.
Rose and Dimitri: why are they fighting?! This is just plain wrong, painful really.
Rose and Janine: Kinda really hate Janine, though she's okay at the end I guess. Totally get why Rose hates her.
Rose and Lissa: get why Rose is jealous of Christian getting most of Lissa's time, but kinda love how she puts Lissa first even so.
Adrian: Don't like him. Kinda creepy, not looking forward to seeing more of him
On Rose: In my VA reread I stated that I noticed Rose's bratty nature more, or saw more why it bothered some people. I was paying a lot more attention to how she was behaving, reacting and what changes there were (or weren't) with her behaviour compared to VA. I do think she's grown a lot in this book. She is immature at times, but again, she's 17. It's expected. What I like though, is that she's trying. She thinks it, she says it, and she acts it. She makes some bad decisions, but acknowledges them, suffers from them. She also makes some mature ones, really showing potential, recognising things above and beyond what's expected of her.
On Rose and Dimitri: Wow. Talk about unbalanced. Dimitri over compensating, trying to be just her instructor, constantly putting her down harshly. Not treating Rose as an equal, or even as a student. Everything he says is meant to push her away, but the force behind it only proves he cares too much. Rose tries so hard to cover her hurt and loneliness with sass and attitude but unfortunately for her, it comes off as the immaturity Dimitri keeps throwing in her face because she is younger. Painful reading, and I wanted to smack Dimitri a few times, and yet I now think those moments were really vital.
In contrast, their togetherness moments were very tender and sweet, showing their love for each other and how well they understand the other and how well they fit together. This is not some casual attraction, things aren't always smooth going for them (never have been, but they've never had a real argument before this book either) but it's good for them. More real. And I think it shows strength and promise for the outcome of their relationship,
On Rose and Janine: Janine is not an easy person to like, but I honestly believe she loves Rose. She just doesn't know how to show it, she believes she's screwed up, but putting her duty first is the only thing that truly makes sense to her. They're so alike, it's easy to see why they piss each other off so much. I don't think Rose ever hated Janine though. She yelled and screamed and pushed because she wanted Janine to be her mom, not someone she sees once every few years.
On Rose and Lissa: Oh hell. Rose repeatedly stops herself from telling Lissa what's going on because Lissa is preoccupied with other stuff. The bond actually gets in the way because Rose can't help feeling what Lissa does and is very protective. She's got the 'they come first' drilled so hard in to her that bottling it up as she does is only going to make things explode. Lissa is just as bad. She never asks what's going on with Rose. She doesn't realise she's spending almost all her free time with Christian, being a bad friend. Takes two to make a friendship work, and they're both on the path to destruction.
On Adrian: I do not like this guy. - guess something things don't change with time ;)