Tom Rob Smith
Humanity has been exiled to Antarctica by an alien race that cares nothing for humans. Given 30 days to race there by any means possible, the novel follows the unlikely love story of Liza and Atto, and their daughter Echo, from Announcement Day to the Days of the Cold People. Genetic experiments have bred new beings that thrive in the ice – but are they human? Do they care about humanity?
I wanted to like this novel, but I couldn’t. I generally hate perspectives that jump from character to character because often the change in tone isn’t noticeable enough. In this novel, it’s clear who the different people are, but I just didn’t care about any of them very much. I formed no emotional connections to the humans or the ice-adapted beings, and thus I didn’t really care one way or the other who ‘won’.
The world-building was beautiful and I could see the snow drifts of Antarctica and smelly human boats that stained the pure ice. I have no desire to go there! I would have been like Yotan’s friend’s family – holed up together until dissipating into energy particles. I still don’t know what the novel was trying to teach me though.
I received this novel as an ARC, so I felt as if I should read the whole thing before judging it. I’m not sure what exactly I was hoping to get from the ending, but I found it to be a letdown. Are we supposed to sympathise with the Cold People? Wish that humanity had treated the Earth better and that we hadn’t been so hard on the resources? I’m a geneticist “by trade” and I didn’t find it that interesting because it was clear that this wasn’t based on what we can do in genetics now. Since I finished it, 3 stars, but I guess you’d need to be really keen on Antarctica.
Simon & Schuster | 1 February 2023 | AU$32.99 | paperback