Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Now, I really didn’t want to kick of my book reviewing career with a lemon, but, alas, Snow Like Ashes was the last book I read. And I’m sorry to say that this is one of the most lemony lemons I have squeezed in a long time. It took me about three months to finish Snow Like Ashes, which shows how often I was reading in those three months, and when I did manage to steel myself for a squeezing session I was almost convinced on every occasion to do the unthinkable and not finish a book. In fact, the only thing that prevented such a travesty was my deep hatred of unfinished stories.
I think the first sign of an imminent disappointment was that I had mapped out the entire course of the plot by the end of chapter two. A more obvious “twist” you cannot conceive. Despite this, I pushed on through thinking the hype around this book had to pertain to some aspect, but in fact I found Snow Like Ashes to be lacking in every aspect. The plot was profoundly predictable, the main character was unlikeable, the other characters were cliché and superficial, the world building was derivative and delivered in fact dumps, and the writing was utterly unchallenging. It says that the author wrote this story when she was 12 and it certainly reads like it was written by a 12-year-old.
It really grates when YA is patronising, like young adults are somehow literarily challenged and need to be written down to. Twaddle. I struggled to keep in mind that the main character was 17 when her voice was that of a pre-teen. The love triangle, which seems so lamentably requisite for YA novels these days, is cringingly written out with all the subtlety of a saucepan to the face and without anywhere near enough depth as to prompt me to actually like either of the interested parties. Possibly the worst characterisation of all, however, is the bad guys. Not only are they flagrant stereotypes, but I struggled to feel anything towards them other than vague disinterest. So the main character hates and despises them and feels fear at the mere mention of them. So what? Without actually experiencing any of their evil deeds myself, I can’t possibly form the same judgement of them. As far as I can tell, the bad guys are just fools to be casually outwitted by the main character and no more harmful than that. It doesn’t make for a gripping read. It’s just lazy writing. There are no attempts to engage emotionally with the reader, or if there are then I couldn’t find them. I think the overwhelming emotion I experienced while reading this book was a heavy dose of meh.
So as you may have guessed, I didn’t like it. I hate to say this but I bought it because the cover is extremely alluring and perhaps the only aspect of any merit. Yes, yes, that makes me an idiot, but sometimes I just like having beautiful things on my shelves. Not that Snow Like Ashes will be spending much time on there. If I wasn’t so averse to the destruction of books I would shred it for compost, but as I am I will charity shop it with a spoonful of guilt knowing that some other poor reader will have to endure it.
I promise I am not going to disparage every book I read on here. It is, thankfully, very rare for me to read a book devoid of distinction, but it will always be astonishing to me that literary tripe such as this slips through the editorial net and actually ends up asking us to pay good money for it. This, of course, is my own opinion as I can see from other reviews that many people found great delight amongst the pages of Snow Like Ashes. Not I, however. I may be in the minority, but I like something a little more challenging and original.