I dig a good, original science fiction story – not the typical spaceships full of aliens landing on Earth/only Will Smith can save us story. When I read the opening chapter of A Line In The Ice, it sounded utterly fascinating, so I jumped at the chance to read and review. I was not disappointed. I was a little…caught off guard with an aspect of the book, but I’ll explain that later.
It’s present-day, and a small group of military personnel, collected from several different countries, are the front line on a tiny battlefield in Antartica, where a rift has formed allowing creatures from another world to enter ours. Day by day, this team has to patrol and pick off these creatures before enough of them can gather to spread to the rest of the world.
The story itself is fascinating, and as we find out at the end the creatures not only aren’t what they seem, but may not be the true danger. But the more fascinating aspect of the story are the characters. The author (authors actually – it’s two writing as a collaborative work under a pseudonym) developed the people even better than the settings and technologies used, which sometimes can be hard to do (science fiction tends to focus somewhat more on those than the people, and can hurt a story). The main character Charlie (female) is tough yet tender, has flaws and needs, and is someone the reader can really relate to. Lysander, the male lead, is also well thought out and described, and even the supporting cast have distinct personalities that make it easy to tell who is speaking, acting, etc.
The book editing is flawless. This is one of my biggest pet peeves – I have sort of an OCD when it comes to typos, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, and so on. When I read many self-published works, those errors, even small ones, pull me out of the story. (Actually even in some traditionally published, Big 6 works I see those – Dan Brown, I’m looking at you!) If they used an editor, he or she is top notch. If they didn’t, they themselves should be commended. It’s clean, well-written, and easy to understand, with no jarring errors. As a matter of fact, only two things caught my eye – a missing space after a period/before next sentence, and one word repetition (the word ‘spare’ twice in one sentence). I’m not being nit-picky, I’m just saying the book was so clean that that’s all I saw. Well done.
But now, the caught-off-guard part, and something that, if the authors are reading this, I must strongly suggest they state clearly in the book blurb/description. A Line In The Ice has several scenes of heavy erotica. Not “she placed her hand on his strong muscled chest”, but “she wrapped her lips around his…” type of erotica. I read some of the Amazon reviews prior to reading the book, and they mention ‘a dash of romance.’ Whoa, not quite – this is not romance, by any means. I think those reviewers may have been glossing over that in order to make a clean, innocuous review, but the fact that this erotica is in the book MUST be mentioned somewhere in the description. I read the first chapter and excerpts and almost gave the book to my 14 year old son, who is a voracious advanced reader and loves scifi. Wow, can you imagine those discussions afterwards? Come to find out the authors have a background in erotica and this is their first stab at science fiction. That’s all well and good, no problem at all, but it needs to be specified, an explicit warning, before someone buys the book.
And finally, just my personal opinion as a long-time science fiction reader and fan, and now writer. I don’t think that type of erotica belongs in this type of story. The novel itself was excellent and stands on its own; those scenes really pulled me out of the book, almost like someone else wrote them and put them in later. Yes, there is a love interest between the main characters, but it could have been done in a more ‘romance’ way. And only because of that would I knock the rating down a bit.
Excellent story, very well developed characters, different setting, believable technology, and a unique premise. I’d give it a 7 out of 10 – again my only ding is for the erotica (please change the book description to reflect this!)
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