Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ice Hunt - James Rollins

    2003; 505 pages.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Thriller; Action-Adventure.  Overall Rating : 8½*/10.

    The research submarine Polar Sentinel has some neat features, including having its forward upper shell replaced with a canopy of foot-thick, heavy-duty, clear plastic.  So when it’s under the polar ice cap, the personnel can actually see what’s in the water ahead.

    Like something called an ice island, sort of an inverted mountain of ice.  But this one has something startling stuck in it – a WW2-era Russian submarine.  And sonar shows even stranger images of the inside of the ice island.  Rooms and corridors, and scattered within them, the forms of human bodies.  Well, except for that one image blip.  It’s still moving.  Quite quickly, in fact.

What’s To Like...
    Ice Hunt opens with three storylines – the Americans, the Russians, and an Alaskan Fish & Game ranger out doing his job.  The action in each line starts immediately.  Their paths converge at the newly-discovered ice station.  Which just ratchets up the excitement to another level.

    The tone of the book is a mix of the best elements of Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton, and Clive Cussler.  There’s a poopload of plot twists, and telling the white-hats from the black-hats is a lot more difficult than simply saying “Yankees good.  Russkies bad”.  Indeed, the Russians have a knack for being every bit as resourceful as the Americans.  Some of the good guys die; some of the bad guys survive.

    There’s a Cast of Characters at the front of the book, and that helps tremendously.  There is some cussing, and a smattering of all-too-obvious romance.  But no sex, not even rubbing noses.  It’s too cold, and it’s hard to cuddle when you’re being shot at, blown up, or sniffed over by something contemplating you as its next meal.

    The ending is good and all the loose ends are neatly resolved.  This is a standalone book; it’s nice to red something that doesn’t carry over to a sequel.

    Matt considered his options.  They were few.  He could escape on his own and leave Craig to the gunmen.  He wagered they were more interested in silencing the reporter than him, and he had no doubt that he could disappear into these woods on his own.  But this was not a real option.
    He had his dogs to think about.  (pg. 50 )

    “It’s hard to believe…” Dr. Ogden murmured from the neighboring cell, looking on.  Matt had related the findings in Vladimir Petkov’s journal.
    Matt merely nodded, unable to take his eyes from the boy.
    “What I wouldn’t give to study the boy … maybe a sample of his blood.”
    Matt sighed and closed his eyes.  Scientists.  They never lifted their noses from their research to see who was affected.  (pg. 444)

“Something’s alive in there…”  (pg. 11)
    There are some quibbles.  As usual, the scientists are stereotyped.  The heroes are incredibly lucky, and there are a few YFKM moments, such as when a submarine goes skeet shooting.  That’s the only way to describe it without giving a spoiler.

    But this is par for the course for this genre.  Everything has to be lightning-fast and visually spectacular.  And that’s better than being slow and boring.  8½ Stars.  Cuz even though it felt like this was written to be made into a movie (which hasn’t happened yet), it kept me turning the pages.

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