My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Anders Nordvelt arrives, newly promoted, at Australis, a mining base located in the desolate plains of Antarctica. As Chief of Security, it’s his responsibility to make daily life is as smooth as possible for the crew, however it’s soon apparent he’s not welcome. Complicated relationships and old resentment are just the beginning however, as when the night shift begins, so does the sabotage. The very future of humanity falls upon Anders, and he struggles to discover the traitor of the project.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
I like to indulge in something a little different now and again, dip my toes into the unfamiliar, and I honestly couldn’t say no to an Antarctica thriller. There’s something about that part of the world that frightens yet fascinates me, it’s also very much an alien concept. I can’t imagine how it must feel to be surrounded by white, to be without the sun for half a year, therefore I rely very much on the author’s interpretation. Triggs created a fairly unique voice in Anders, as it was apparent early on he had certain problems relating to social interactions, as well as establishing that line between business and pleasure. He was, without a doubt, a workaholic with a very clear-cut mindset. Granted, he may not have been the most exciting main character ever, but he elicited enough intrigue over the course of the book, especially regarding his past.
I was surprised to find science fiction elements interweaved into the story; I didn’t glean such from the synopsis. The state of the world was mentioned several times – a dystopic future where humanity is struggling with the lack of sufficient resources to feed and power its overpopulation. Whilst I appreciated the flavour, that’s all it was; a mild taste that lingered in the background. World-building wasn’t priority, it was merely used in a casual manner to explain why this and this was happening. I felt that Triggs could have included more depth, perhaps to further convey the importance of the mission. I can’t say I particularly cared if they succeeded or not, the gravity just didn’t hit home.
Despite that, the mystery aspect made me eagerly turn the pages. At first, I was thoroughly immersed in the unfolding drama, and I enjoyed getting to know the twelve other individuals of Australis, even though there were moments I had difficulty in telling them apart. The suspicion, the tempers and morale rising and falling in such close quarters, it was genuinely absorbing. I’ve always found a certain appeal to stories that put a large amount of pressure on the sanity of the characters. Truth is, I want to see the chipping away and breaking of the psyche. The more horrific, the better in my opinion, and I have to give praise where it’s due, events became pretty dire in this debut. It’s just a shame it was over so quickly, like it was rushed, with very little in terms of answers. I understand it’s a marketing tactic, to leave the conclusion open-ended so that the reader will feel intrigued enough to return to the series, but it’s quite frustrating when you spend precious hours on it only to never experience a proper outcome.
As for the whodunit, my prediction came early on, perhaps too early on, due to the multitude of hints spread throughout. There was one paragraph in particular that basically laid it all on the table right before the big reveal, so it could have benefited in being more vague. It’s hard enough to incorporate twists – many authors think they’re being clever when they’re not – so there wasn’t even a modicum of surprise when the real identity of the culprit was exposed. Due to the aforementioned lack of ending, it wasn’t entirely clear on the reasoning either.
In conclusion: It interested me to a certain extent; the atmosphere, the small window of mystery, and the emphasis on isolation, but there was obvious flaws in execution. The no-ending was the biggest disappointment.
I almost felt content. Almost felt happiness. Death was good. This was the way it should be. My thoughts drifted, my mouth curled into a smile. The worries I always carried with me slowly emptied into the clouds above. Death was kind.
© Red Lace 2018