Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!
As soon as I found out about Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves, I immediately put it on hold at the library. The premise of a sci-fi survival story with racing wolves and vengeful gangsters hooked me in no time. However, what I found inside was a different story: too much exposition, too little story.
Enjoy this week’s review!
Sena Korhosen vowed to never involve herself in sled racing after it claimed the lives of both her mothers. But when her pickpocketing habit gets her in trouble with a prominent crime syndicate, she’s forced to flee. Along with the head gangster’s prizefighting wolf, Iska, Sean bands up with a team of scientists who can get her off of the frozen planet of Tundra—but at the cost of her helping them win the sled race that killed her moms. Trapped in the frozen wilderness, Sena faces a choice: brave the woods and the beasts within them, or risk a fate worse than death?
TW/CW: violence, gore, blood, past death of parents, animal cruelty, animal death, animal attacks
This is what I get for getting my hopes up for every YA sci-fi book I come across…
It’s such a shame, though; the premise hooked me with no effort, but Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves ended up being a disappointment through and through.
For Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves, its best aspect was simultaneously its worst aspect. That aspect was the worldbuilding. I’ll start out with why most of it worked: with each page, it was clear that there was so much time put into making all of the dominoes fall in the right place. Everything from the social cleavages to Tundar’s fauna to the intricacies of the sled race were so thoughtfully written with a clear intent on making an immersive world—which Meg Long succeeded in.
However, said worldbuilding was lumped into so much of the first half of this novel that it felt more exposition than story. The plot didn’t pick up until about halfway through. I expected more of a through-and-through survival story, but Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves lingered more in civilization than it did out in the frozen wilderness that it promised. What wasn’t exposition was most often just descriptions of animal attacks, and that combination wasn’t ideal.
The other curse from the worldbuilding was the naming of certain things. There was already a degree of suspension of disbelief implied, but naming a frozen planet Tundar (tundra) and giving the animals names like rënedeer (reindeer) made Meg Long’s world all the less plausible. With all of the thought that was clearly put into this book, I feel really bad saying this, but the names just felt…plain lazy. I’m not saying that the names have to be perfect, but they shouldn’t be that derivative of what they’re based on.
With all of that mess piled on, I found it hard to get attached to any of the characters. Sena’s personality got on my nerves from the get-go, and since most of the other characters were introduced around the 1/3-1/2 mark, they came off as having little to no personality. Sena never quite developed, either, and a lot of her actions seemed to have unrealistic motivations, given her past. Add an all-too-easily-defeated villain to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a batch of very halfhearted characters.
All in all, a sci-fi novel with a bold premise that was unfortunately bogged down by too much of a good thing—great worldbuilding, but half a book’s worth of exposition to show it. 2 stars.
Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is a standalone, and is Meg Long’s debut novel.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!