Saturday, September 20, 2008

Freezing Point - Karen Dionne

When the world is running low on safe, drinkable water, big business starts scurrying to find ways to tap the iceberg's resources. And where can they find the ultimate in iceberg resources but Antarctica? Soldyne Corporation has plans to use microwaves to melt the ice and transport the water back to the United States to sell it. However, they have to wait until a part of the ice shelf breaks off before they can begin their efforts.

Meanwhile, scientists are living and studying in Antarctica. They have a variety of scientific studies going on, and these scientists are advocates for the environment. However, the scientists aren't the only creatures in Antarctica. The icy region is also inhabited by rats.

When a large section of the ice shelf "conveniently" breaks away, Soldyne races to beat Australian scientists to the newly formed iceberg. The Australian scientists initially win that race but almost immediately relinquish their rights to Soldyne. Then all the real action starts to take place.

Freezing Point deviates from my typical crime fiction read. I received an ARC copy of Dionne's novel, and was immediately hooked because of its ties to the environment and environmental issues.

The novel is very fast paced. I moved through the book quite quickly, despite the fact that I'm squeamish about rats. I was worried at times that I would end up with nightmares about rats. So, if you choose to pick up Freezing Point (which releases next month), you've been forewarned about the rats.

What was gripping about the book was the concept of the world not having enough drinking water. Of course this is a concern that environmental scientists are saying will be a reality if we don't start making changes now. So, I was definitely intrigued to see how that element would play out. But, I have to say, for the most part, I wasn't really connecting with too many of the characters. The character that pulled me in the most was only present at the beginning of the novel: Derek MacCallister, an iceberg "cowboy." The concept for the microwaves to melt the 'berg came from MacCallister.

The beginning of the novel illustrates the fearlessness of MacCallister when he ties himself to the bow of his boat when an iceberg is forcing the boat to capsize. The boat literally turns 360 degrees and then rights itself. MacCallister is still out on the bow of the boat, grinning like a goof and giving the thumbs up sign! I was completely hooked on him at that moment. He's fearless; he's crazy; he's funny. He's also incredibly smart. He sold his plans to Soldyne for two million dollars, and then THEY were left with the "hard part". He walked away with the cash, never to be seen again. That was disappointing to me.

I think Dionne's intention was for the novel to be more plot driven than character driven, but as I've mentioned before (okay, obsessively mentioned before), character development is key for me in a great novel. Zo - short for Amazon - is a scientist at the station in Antarctica, who also happens to be pregnant. I thought the pregnancy was probably more on the fluff side. It didn't really play into anything that was vital to the plot. Ben works for Soldyne and he's in Antarctica to follow up on some problems that are occurring with their process. Both characters are likable, but neither really "stuck" with me.

The plot is very strong in this novel, however. Since I don't often read scientific thrillers, this may be the norm for this element of the genre. I admired how Dionne portrayed both ends of the environmental extremes as detrimental to society. And I have to say that I was riveted by her ideas of what could potentially happen. Really makes you stop and think. I guess that's why movies with themes such as this are always so popular.

The novel also portrays the greed-factor. This is absolutely repulsive to me and Dionne doesn't harp on it, but presents just enough of it to make you angry. I cannot imagine anyone reading this book and feeling any compassion for Donald Gillette. Gillette is Ben's boss who is also disgruntled because Soldyne is using Ben's microwave science as opposed to Gillette's proposed approach. His jealousy drives him to react in the most selfish of all ways. Dionne definitely did a great job of making me hate the antagonist.

Overall, if you enjoy scientific thrillers, you will most likely enjoy this novel - unless of course you have real issues with rats (sorry, the rats are a big thing with me). I will in all likelihood keep Dionne on my radar for future works.


Traci September 20, 2008 at 10:06 AM  

Great review. I've already got this one on my wishlist, and based on your review, I'm sure I'd like it.

Jen September 20, 2008 at 10:28 AM  

Thanks Traci! Do hope you enjoy it!!

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