Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review: The White Darkness

The White Darkness
By Geraldine McCaughrean
Published 2007 by HarperCollins

Sym has been in love with a dead man her whole life. Raised on a steady diet of Antarctica propaganda, she's fallen for Titus Oates, one of the men who attempted the pole but never made it back. Now, her beloved uncle has arranged a trip for two to the Ice; it sounds like a dream come true. However, how will Sym handle the trip when things go horribly awry?

So, this book won the Printz award in 2008 and has obviously been on my radar. I picked it up recently because it kept catching my eye when I walked the shelves. I was intrigued by the setting, as well. I'm going to start by saying this book went very slowly for me. I'm not sure why, but I didn't find it to be quite the gripping and suspenseful read I expected. It took quite some time for me to get interested in the story and I found Sym a rather pathetic narrator. Of course, as the story goes on and more details are revealed, her character makes a bit more sense, but I still found her difficult to deal with for much of the book. I guess I just found all the characters here rather odd and nonsensical - like if these people actually existed and I met them, I would probably eye them apprehensively. Is it because that they're all odd that none of them notices the oddness of the others? I just found it a bit incomprehensible that no one sees any red flags during the book. That being said, I liked how the trip to Antarctica played out. Of course it wasn't going to be all hunky-dory, exactly what Sym expected. The slow reveal of the exact brand of crazy was really well-done. Additionally, I liked that this slow reveal added more details to Sym's backstory and helped explain her Arctic obsession. McCaughrean does a great job of evoking the Arctic - not that I ever wanted to previously but I definitely would be terrified of a trip to Antarctica now. This book is absolutely imbued with terror - I couldn't imagine being in these circumstances. Overall, I liked this book much better in the end than I did for the first portion, but I'm still put off by the strangeness of the characters. Perhaps it's meant to add to the strangeness of the setting - perhaps everything seems unreal in the Arctic.

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