Beyond Ice by Helene Levey Zemel
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A thank you goes to the author for this ARC.
I feel I must be somewhat politic about this. Most fiction revolves around conflict, and that's true for any genre, as well.
What we have here is a remarkable lack of conflict. Happy families, everyday middle-class post-card updates, and very mild near-empty nest MC. She happens to learn she has some serious cancer. But fortunately, her family is very supportive. Always supportive. The doctors are nice and try to be optimistic, but the prognosis is definitely quite horrible. But everyone's so supportive and always makes the right noises.
On the other side of the equation is a man who would put people to sleep. On ice. And he has a very nice family. So supportive. A son who would kind of follow in his footsteps. A nice marriage for his son. Everyone's so supportive and makes all the right noises.
As a SF, this actually just reads like a diary of a fairy tale family doing exactly what a cancer victim would want, feeling like a fairyland of supportiveness and understanding.
But where's the SF? Oh yeah, the other side of the story. There's a bit of an unbelievable intrigue that gets her frozen almost by the end of the novel. And the whole "Beyond" bit in the "Ice" is kinda just an epilogue.
I really want to be supportive of this novel, but unfortunately, it has very little conflict or reason for me to be interested. If it had taken a turn at page 80 or even at page 100 and had her go to sleep and then have her wake up in some undefined future for the rest of the bulk of the book, I'd have been ecstatic. That's where the real SF comes in. Exploring possibilities. Exploring the conflicts of a person out of time, a stranger in a strange land... Something.
Not just a daydream about cyrogenics and having a Cancer happy ending despite all the realities surrounding it. This is a simple fairytale. An extremely simple fairytale. One that can be told in one line.
I'm very happy for her and all. She seems nice and all her family seems nice and the jerk who kidnapped her to put her on ice had a really nice family and all. Yeah. It was nice.
Who would read this?
Cancer victims or family members who can't deal with any heavy emotions beyond a happy ending tale for their own loved ones.
It's almost perfectly tailored for them.
For anyone else, though? Well, I was banging my head against a wall wanting to know when it would end. For practically the entire novel.
I recommend it for those people I just mentioned. No one else.
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