I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on April 4th 2017
Genres: Middle-Grade, fantasy, Action & Adventure
Source: the Publisher
Amazon • Barnes and Noble • Book Depository
In a thrilling fantasy that’s equal parts Prison Break and Frozen, Valor attempts the impossible—breaking her sister out of prison.
When Valor is arrested, she couldn’t be happier. Demidova’s prison for criminal children is exactly where she wants to be. Valor’s sister Sasha is already serving a life sentence for stealing from the royal family and Valor is going to help her escape . . . from the inside.
Never mind that no one has escaped in three hundred years. Valor has a plan and resources most could only dream about. But she didn't count on having to outsmart both the guards and her fellow prisoners. If Valor’s plan is to succeed, she’ll need to make unlikely allies. And if the plan fails, she and Sasha could end up with fates worse than prison.
This fresh and exciting middle-grade debut effortlessly melds an unforgettable protagonist, a breathless plot, and stunning world-building—and is impossible to put down.
Middle-grade can be pretty hit or miss with me. I still love reading them and I love that my kids and I can read the same books but sometimes they just aren’t made for adults. And that’s completely fine. I’m most definitely not the intended audience. And I shouldn’t be. Kids deserve books written for them. But it’s also nice to read books that don’t talk down to kids or aren’t too simplified or full of silly things only kids will find funny. It’s nice to read books aimed at younger kids that are also engaging and exciting and full of adventure that anyone will enjoy. And Prisoner of Ice and Snow is one of those books.
It starts off right in the middle of the action with Valor trying to get caught by the royal guards so she can be taken to the prison where her sister is being held for stealing from the royal family. The only way she can think to do this is to make it look like she’s trying to kill the prince. And with her hunting training, she has very good aim. She gets caught, like she wants, and ends up in prison near her sister where she plans to break both of them out. Now it isn’t that easy. There are a lot of bumps in the road on her way to her sister and then A LOT more on the way out that she hadn’t anticipated. But what makes this so great is that Valor has a plan and works at it. She keeps moving forward and won’t let anything stand in her way of getting to her sister. She’s such a great character because she’s strong and smart and brave but not stupid or reckless or fearless. There are plenty of times she admits she’s scared, mostly for her sister but also for failing her personal mission and not seeing her parents again. And she makes mistakes like regular kids would make. Like not realizing how difficult it would all be or not thinking much past just getting to her sister. She works through her mistakes and her fears but she also acknowledges them, which I think is especially great in a kids book because kids so often thing they’re the only ones who are afraid of something or who make mistakes. Seeing a character in a book go through those things, even in situations that they would never personally find themselves in, lets them know they aren’t alone with those emotions.
The other great thing about this book is the relationship between the sisters. Valor and Sasha are great together because they’re so different but they love each other so much. They also get to learn more about each other as their adventure progresses. All their lives they’ve been put into two different categories and raised for two different jobs, Valor for hunting and Sasha for politics. But as the sisters work together, they discover new talents and secrets about each other and they grow closer. And they grow stronger themselves. It’s great to see them growing and changing but also getting closer and seeing how much love there is in this whole family.
Another great thing about this book which may seem small but was actually very impressive for me was the way women are treated in this society. In the world that Valor and Sasha live in, women are in ALL of the leadership roles. Royalty is passed from mother to daughter, Valor’s mother is the lead hunter for the royal family, and the warden is a woman. That doesn’t mean that the women are all wonderful or kind or anything. Some of them are evil. Some of them are good. It’s just interesting to see a book that has women in all of its powerful positions and a society where the queens are valued more than the kings. And it wasn’t a fact that was thrown in your face. It just WAS. If that makes sense. And I loved it.
I think this is a book that lots of kids are going to love. It has a lot of adventure and action in it that kept the whole thing moving very quickly. And there was an added mystery in the story that I really wasn’t expecting. Of course, a lot of adults will probably find a few plot holes and solve the mystery pretty quickly, but even so, I found the entire book very interesting and fun. And I think kids will love the idea of the girls escaping from prison and solving the mystery. Plus, the book really is just a lot of fun!