Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review: A Killing Frost by John Marsden

A Killing Frost by John Marsden
(The Tomorrow Series #3)
Reviewed by Noelle: May 3, 2012
Published August 1, 2006 by Scholastic Inc. (first published 1995)
Goodreads • Currently unavailable under $28 *faints*

This review contains unavoidable spoilers for the first and second books in The Tomorrow Series but minimal spoilers on A Killing Frost.  Life advice from Dave Chapelle, the perils of reviewing a book without being able to talk about 80% of it and more after the jump!

It’s easy to think that there is no way Ellie and Co. can top the demolition of a bridge and the destruction of an entire city block, but never underestimate just how far the teens are willing to go and just how sick they are of sitting around looking at each other in Hell.  Ellie and friends have been hiding out for weeks after their latest and greatest mission and are feeling a dangerous combination of stir crazy and powerless.

Introducing When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong: Bored Teenaged Guerilla Edition. 

The group decides that they’ve been flying under the radar long enough and it’s time to really take a stand, to make an undeniable impact on the enemy forces... blowing up a container ship and optimistically half of the harbor of the strategically placed and enemy controlled Cobbler’s Bay shipping port.

Piece of cake right?

Let's just say that merely googling my Ellie Survival Skill Lesson choice for this book would put me on a federal watch list.  Instead of bulldozer driving lessons and toaster mechanics, think 100 lbs of fertilizer and a detonator.  (Can't wait to see the keywords for our Google search visitors after typing that last sentence.) The planning behind their attack and the mechanics of the actual event were both fascinating and nerve-wracking to watch develop.  The mixture of dread, adrenaline and resignation that Ellie experiences is so palpable that when it breaks the chaos that follows is even more overwhelming.

It's not long before Ellie and friends realize that when you blow enough shit up, there are bound to be some consequences.  Or as Dave Chapelle referred to in the links above, blowing up a container ship might be keeping it real but you know who is going to be keeping it real-er? The army of the container ship you just blew up.

That was actually my favorite aspect of A Killing Frost: CONSEQUENCES.  The enemy made the first attack and the next two and a half books have been the teens reacting to that attack.  What happens when the gang is no longer in familiar territory?  What happens when they meet the enemy on more even ground? What happens when the Empire Strikes Back? Awesomeness, that's what.

Ellie and co. can hardly be described as teens anymore.  They have left teenager worries and cares long behind and the tone of this installment is decidedly bleaker than it's predecessors.  Official warning: just when you think there is a reprieve from the grimness, Marsden takes advantage of your temporary relief to punch through your ribcage, yank out your still beating heart and crush it in his fist.  Wearing a chest plate should be a prerequisite for reading this book.

I know I've been staying frustratingly vague in this review to minimize spoilers but so much of what happens to the group in this outing is stuff I've been eager to see happen from the very start.  And that's not me being an a-hole, that's me being excited about cause and effect.  Many of my concerns and questions about believability were finally addressed and the events of A Killing Frost were necessary to be able to continue to take the series seriously.  In fact, I am sort of surprised that the series didn't end as a trilogy.  I can't help but wonder how much the characters will be able to do in the situation they find themselves in at the end of the book.  Ugh, I know.  Can I be any more vague?

Hopefully this clears things up a little: Rating 4/5 stars.  


  1. As real as it can be...

    LOL, why did Dave Chappelle have to over-think his massive fame, run away to Africa, and extract his future brilliance from all of our lives???

    I've read the first in this series but never felt the urge to continue. You two and your enthusiasm for the rest of the books really make me curious though. And they're so short! Maybe I will have to pick up the second one some time. Excellent review Noelle!

    1. I hope Dave comes back someday, Catie. I'm actually kind of feeling that way about the series. I enjoy them while I'm reading them but don't feel like I must elbow people out of the way to read the next book. ESPECIALLY after this one. Vague vague vague I know but why stop now? :) --N

  2. I've skimmed this because of the spoilers but I love when you post these reviews because it reminds me that I need to re-read book 1 and then the rest of the series too!

    1. Peer pressure is one of my top skills Mandee! I'm going to take a bit of a break before book 4 so who knows you might catch up to me! --N


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