Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1) — Jennifer Estep

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My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy — a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody’s head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.

But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I’m determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why—especially since I should have been the one who died. . .

Touch of Frost is the first book in Jennifer Estep’s brand new Mythos Academy series. Touch of Frost follows Gwen Frost, a teenage girl transfered to Mythos Academy after the death of her mother. Gwen comes from a long line of Gypsies, which means she’s gifted with supernatural powers. While her grandma is psychic, Gwen possesses the gift of psychometry, meaning when she touches objects, she sees visions, thoughts, and emotions related to those objects. At Mythos, Gwen uses her powers to find lost items for her rich classmates…at a hefty price. But when Jasmine Ashton is murdered in the Library of Antiquities, Gwen thinks she might be able to put her powers to better use.

At first, I was really excited to read this book. Supernatural boarding school, check. Independent, witty heroine who’s different from everyone else, check. Insanely hot, flirty boy who knows how to wield a sword, check. But the very first chapter irked me. In fact, the very first line made me cringe. “‘I know your secret.'” Really? Do girls really walk up to one another and just an announce this? Not to mention, the secret in question isn’t much of a secret at all. Estep tries to lead with suspense, but for me, this technique completely backfired so that I almost immediately wanted to put the book down.

But it was the first chapter of a new series, so I forgave it and moved on. Unfortunately, Touch of Frost doesn’t really improve. Estep’s writing style just really grates on my nerves. She beats certain phrases to death, such as “magic mumbo jumbo” and “warrior whiz kids.” Every single meal is described in agonizing detail and I’m not sure why. Epithets like Valkyrie, Spartan, and Gypsy-girl are thrown around probably over a hundred times. Never mind that the characters all have their own names. Apparently it’s a rule at Mythos that students disregard names and identify each other by whichever race of ancient warriors they descend from. This lends a forced quality to all of the dialogue and even Gwen’s inner thoughts.

Writing style aside, I wasn’t really held by the plot. Gwen is working in the library one night when she hears some sort of commotion. She’s knocked out and awakens to find Jasmine Ashton, resident mean girl of Mythos, bleeding to death. Gwen is shocked by the murder and shocked that the murderer left her relatively untouched. Even more surprising is the student body’s reaction. No one really seems to care, not even Jasmine’s best friends. Sure, Jasmine was well-hated, but she’s dead. Why is Gwen the only one who seems affected by this? She’s told that the students are used to and prepared for death. They grow up in an environment where they’re training to defend their lives and the lives of others. They’ve experienced death and the threat of death all their lives. It’s even pointed out that the professors turn a blind eye to students partying and drinking because, well, they could die tomorrow so why not let them live now? But if all this is true, then why is Jasmine the only dead student? No one ever mentions other friends or family members that died. No one even mentions other attacks. If the Reapers of Chaos are really such threats, then where are they and why aren’t they being more…threatening?

The ending, while not entirely predictable, is ridiculous. The villain seems to be reciting lines from a cringe-worthy horror film. And the villain’s reasoning behind her actions is completely unbelievable. Her actions are rash, crazy, and unjustified. Maybe that’s the point (after all, bad guys are usually crazy), but the villain’s actions are the catalyst for everything that occurs in Touch of Frost and by the time she reveals everything, my only reaction is, “Huh. Overreact, much?” Not only is it a letdown, but I also have a really hard time stomaching the explanation for why she does the things she does.

The characters in Touch of Frost aren’t super original or well-developed. Each one just reminds me of a poor imitation of a character I’ve read about somewhere else. Touch of Frost itself seems like it’s trying too hard to be Vampire Academy. The book really didn’t hook me. The only thing I’m mildly curious about is the burgeoning relationship between Logan and Gwen. I don’t understand why they like each other as they don’t spend any time getting to know each other, but my interest is still piqued. Since Touch of Frost is the first book in a new series and Jennifer Estep’s first attempt at writing for YA, I’m willing to give the series another chance with the sequel, Kiss of Frost.

Pages: 350
Publication Date : August 2011
Publisher: Kensington
Challenge: N/A
Rating [rating: 2]

Teaser Quote: “Well, well, if it isn’t the Gypsy girl out here in the dark all by herself.” Logan’s voice sounded deep and ominous. “What are you doing?”

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