Friday, June 24, 2016

A Frozen Heart

On my vacation, I read A Frozen Heart, which is a novelization of the movie Frozen. This one is done in the style of a teenage romance novel. Every chapter alternates between Hans and Anna as the main character.

The best part of the book is the first part, which is mostly original material. I didn't realize how much the start of the movie rushes the story, until reading Anna's chapters. Like, over the course of the song Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?, there are at least two multi-year time jumps. The book gives a full chapter to each time period, and it really fleshes out the relationship between Anna and Elsa. Seeing the girls interact with their parents was neat, too.

Even more interesting was seeing Hans as a child. He is given a fanfic-worthy tragic backstory, as we meet his horrible brothers who routinely insult him and occasionally assault him. His evil father forces him to kill people. Or, at least, the book very strongly suggests that Hans is forced to commit murder on a regular basis. The end of the book backpedals from this.

One brother is nicer than the rest, and he helps Hans make a plan to escape his horrible life by marrying Princess Elsa of Arendelle. So Hans is desperate to go to Arendelle and instantly fall in love. He sets up a plan to meet cute with the princess, which goes perfectly...only there's a mixup, and he meets the wrong princess! And there's drama, as he struggles with his feelings. He knows the plan is to marry Elsa, but he really likes Anna, and darn, why didn't anyone tell him there was a second princess?!

Meanwhile, Anna struggles because she really likes the cute new price, when she knows she can't fall in love, because the gates are only open for one day, so any relationship is doomed to end in heartbreak...

So, yes, it was good, and interesting, and totally fanficy.

But partway through the "Hans and Anna fall in love" segment, the book syncs up with the movie. Hans' personality does a complete 180. He morphs from a likeable main character to the evil, scheming seducer who is purposely trying to break Anna's heart. I really didn't like that. I think the book either should have kept with Nice Hans the whole time, or Evil Hans the whole time. Switching from one to another, without any warning, is not the right way to go.

The rest of the book follows the movie almost exactly. The narrative becomes heavily skewed towards Anna; the Hans chapters become very short, and the Anna chapters become double-length. The book mildly regained my interest, with a scene of Hans making a secret deal with the Duke's men to capture Elsa alive. The men break the deal, almost out of necessity, because it doesn't exist in the movie. I thought it was a nice touch, though, and it added a different flavor to the scene where Elsa is captured.

In the end, Hans never gets redeemed from his status as a villain, even though the start of the book was 100% villain redemption.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. The first part was my favorite, since it had the most original material, and it had the interesting love story with Nice Hans and Anna. I stopped liking the book when he turns into Evil Hans. If I had to read it again, I'd stop at that point instead of continuing to the end. I mean, I know how it ends. I saw the movie.

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