When I read Revellian’s Remix last year I enjoyed it well enough but it was enough outside my personal tastes that I didn’t think I’d be picking up another of her books. However when I came across Ice Diaries as one of the February picks for the UK Amazon Kindle group on Goodreads I was intrigued by the concept and so I decided to give it a go.
The year is 2018 and shortly after a pandemic has wiped out most of the population a shift in the climate, what looks like a mini ice age, occurs and within a few weeks the UK is under 20 metres of snow. A small group of survivors are living in what were once luxury penthouse apartments. The have to forage for supplies by raiding the buildings that are still accessible i.e. the tall ones, or ones they can get to through them. How long this lifestyle is sustainable if the climate doesn’t change back is a question they ponder and the main character, Tori, would like to head south for warmer climes. Into this a stranger arrives bringing questions and violence in his wake.
The main thing that Ice Diaries has going for it is scenery. The idea of an almost empty London which consists of only the tallest buildings is quite a cool one. Unfortunately the book itself doesn’t do much with this idea. As post-apocalyptic novels go this definitely falls on the “cosy” side. The group have dinner parties, a book club, musical and poetry recitals – and this is the less well organised of the two communities in the book! Also although there’s talk of frostbite and of course mention of the depth of the snow, you get more of a sense of people surviving in what would be a normal, but on the very cold side of normal, British winter. I’m no expert but surely the kind of change that could deliver such a radical change in the landscape would mean the kind of climate where keeping warm, keeping fed and generally keeping on guard against the elements would be a constant struggle. However it seemed like so long as they wrapped up they could mostly move about outside ok and once inside it was sort of assumed that they could dress how they liked.
Of course this kind of thing normally doesn’t bother me and I wouldn’t be thinking about it if the writing was better. It was easy to read but the dialogue seemed obvious and on the nose and the plot was often predictable. Whereas Remix had some plot twists and turns and the pace quickened, Ice Diaries felt very sedate. There were whole sections where the action conveniently paused so that the main characters could spend time together, or explore a new venue. Never mind that they were being pursued by someone who potentially wanted to harm them. It felt very odd.
I see that I noted in my review of Remix that “some of the characterisation was lifted from a chick-lit novel and placed in a crime story“. Here I felt the same way and because of the setting it jarred more. One of the male characters literally was a tall, dark brooding character with a mysterious past who was potentially dangerous, and he was contrasted with a safe, sensible type. When Tori broke off from musings about how to escape to somewhere more sustainable, or where to get the next load of firewood from, to compare these to potential mates, or talk about how she went weak at the knees at his touch – it felt very odd indeed.
All of which makes it sound like I disliked this book. I didn’t really. In its favour it’s a quick read. I just didn’t find much to enjoy about it.
5/10 – a romantic scifi thriller in a snowy future London.
Current TBR count is 256 which is up from 253. I blame book groups and Amazon’s deal of the day!