Today I will be reviewing Danielle Paige’s Stealing Snow. Many of you may be familiar with Paige from her popular series Dorothy Must Die. I, myself, have not read Paige before but was excited to see what she had to offer. I have noticed that quite a few fairy tale re-workings have become popular recently. I personally enjoyed Naoimi Novik’s Uprooted as well as Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles. I was excited to read about a re-telling of the Ice Queen, rather than Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella. Also coming from a post- Frozen world, Paige has pretty much guaranteed some commercial success.
Stealing Snow begins in a mental hospital, Whittaker Psychiatric, following Snow’s life as an institutionalized patient. After Snow’s first kiss with her then ‘boyfriend’ Bale, their relationship falls apart as Bale becomes violent and subsequently detaches himself. Bale is taken away for harming Snow, leaving her completely isolated. The only other attachment Snow has is with her almost seven foot tall orderly, who is paid to spend time with her. Then, when a new orderly starts visiting her room at night, he confirms that the kingdom she sees in her dreams is real. Algid, a frozen world, has been destroyed by the ruthless King Lazar, and Snow’s father. Snow’s world unravels as truths about her past and future are revealed to her.
I can understand the mixed reviews that this book has gotten. There were quite a few aspects that let the book down. For example, I was not immediately taken in by the story as I found Snow a difficult character to relate to. A lot of young adult literature is popular because the protagonist has a compelling perspective or sense of humour, whereas Snow was a bit dull. Snow was mainly defined by her relationships with other people despite the first person perspective. I think if Paige had spent a bit more time making her a more dynamic and developed character, the overall story would be more enjoyable.
There were moments of the story when the plot felt rushed. Instead of a development, it was just one thing after the other. It is almost as if Paige merely followed YA fiction checklist. With more of Snow’s input, longer descriptions of landscapes, people and magic, this novel would felt less disjointed. The lack of world building definitely lets this book down.
Furthermore, the first half of the novel lacked any questioning of events from Snow. I understand Snow has spent most of her life being unable to question what is happening to her, but if anything that should make her anything bu passive?! It also contradicted her personality in Whittaker, where she had been deliberately provocative and outgoing.
I first started to appreciate the novel during the scenes between ‘Queen’ Margo and Snow. Here Snow started to interact more with other characters and question things around her, making her a more interesting character to read. However, the first and second halves did feel slightly disjointed. The reader is expected to forget the importance of Snow learning her magic to go on some merry little robbing expeditions.
An aspect of the novel that I did enjoy was the presence of so many female characters. The range of female characters was rather wide, and it was enjoyable to read. However, I did have a slight problem with the male characters; Snow seemed to fancy every male she came across! Bale, Jagger and Kai were all love interests, and I definitely don’t have time for love triangles, let alone love squares! It also undermined the supposedly all consuming love between Snow and Bale when she kisses every guy she comes across.
After being so excited about reading an original fairy tale retelling, Paige’s reliance on the cliches of young adult fiction made the book seem more disappointing than it may have been without the high expectations.
Although I’m sure many will enjoy this book, I have higher expectations when it comes to young adult fiction.