Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
“Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she's not crazy and doesn't belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.
Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn't what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid--her true home--with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she's sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything . . . including Snow's return to the world she once knew.
This breathtaking first volume begins the story of how Snow becomes a villain, a queen, and ultimately a hero.”
Remember last month, when I discussed my fairytale fatigue? Stealing Snow is a perfect example of why I’m over fairytale retellings. I can’t even sugar coat this review – I did not like this book.
To tackle the fairytale element first, Stealing Snow is supposed to be a retelling/reimagining of the Snow Queen, the same fairytale that inspired Frozen. You wouldn’t know that unless you were explicitly told though, because Paige mixes so many elements from different fairytales together that it becomes nonsensical. Snow White, the Snow Queen, Narnia, and Alice in Wonderland all pop up, and those are just the most obvious ones. The plot was a series of events that never felt tied together. Snow is here doing this. Now she’s here doing this. And now here. And now here! Rinse, repeat.
Looking back, the biggest problem I have with Stealing Snow is how Danielle Paige treats mental illness. Snow has lived in an asylum since she was six and tried to walk through a mirror (which…seriously?), and is constantly medicated because…she gets angry sometimes? We’re told that she goes crazy and is apparently capable of hurting people, but the one scene of this we actually see does nothing to justify these claims. So not only has this minor spent the majority of her life doped up in a psych ward, but the VERY MOMENT she passes into Algid she’s MIRACULOUSLY CURED. We never see that bad attitude or violent tendencies again. She’s no longer “crazy.” This is just so incredibly problematic and honestly disrespectful of people who actually suffer from mental illnesses. This book is a giant step backwards for mental health representation in YA. I’m going to stop talking about this because I’m becoming actively enraged, but suffice it to say that this is a trope I loathe.
Speaking of things that I loathe with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, Stealing Snow has an honest to god LOVE SQUARE. That’s right folks, Snow has four suitors in this book. Of course, I probably don’t have to point out that they’re all male, because even magical lands must ascribe to heteronormativity! The fact that she actually manages to develop feelings for each of these guys is astounding, considering she knows two of them all of five minutes before the pining begins. I can tolerate love triangles (albeit barely), but there’s seriously no damn reason for a love square.
Stealing Snow marks the third YA book I’ve read in the past month where our female protagonist is betrayed by a male character. While on one hand I’m glad that girls are learning to be wary of trusting boys (yes, this is who I am ok), it’s becoming such an unoriginal trope. And it’s always the same character, too. But lucky Snow is betrayed by not one, but TWO of her love interests! Oh the angst, how will this love square be resolved? Oh no, my eyes just rolled right out of my head.
To top it all off, Stealing Snow packs a one-two punch of lackluster writing and literally no world building. The brief insights we have into Algid are confusing, and none of these pieces seem to fit together. The writing was easy to read because it was so painfully simple and unremarkable.
I honestly can’t point out any one thing that I genuinely enjoyed about this book, and I wish that I would have DNFed it instead.
*I received this ARC from the publisher at BEA in exchange for a free & honest review.