Book Club: Ice Breaker by Lian Tanner
A lone person on an iceberg with a huge ship looming above. It’s icy and cold looking. The title is in bold with colouration that makes it look a little like dirty snow. I have a hard cover copy and the book underneath the dust jacket is black, the title on the spine is in silver foil. Pretty special.
Though we know there is a fully comprehensive crew on board the Oyster, there is a central cast of maybe 12 characters.
I do like Mr Smoke and Mrs Slink. They’re smart, sassy, and protective of Petrel.
Dolph. The girl has issues.
The Oyster is divided into 3 tribes, and considering everyone lives on an ice breaker ship, it seems somewhat idiotic for this to be the case. Petrel (otherwise known as the ‘Nothing Girl’) is tribe-less, so is ignored by a good proportion of the crew. So when Petrel notices a figure on an iceberg, she is indirectly involved with his rescue.
A strange mania takes over the crew when their captain is murdered. The easiest thing is to blame the stranger.
Not what I was expecting, and yet it pleased me.
After so long on a ship (300 years), some of the concepts have me thinking back to biology class and the issues with inbreeding. There seems to always be mention of babies, but none of the female crew was pregnant as far as we’re told and if the tribes aren’t supposed to co-mingle… yeah, I don’t need to complete that thought.
There is a sneak peek at book 2, Sunker’s Deep, in the back and because I don’t know if I want to read on, so I’m avoiding it.
“Snow falls from the sky,” said Krill, scowling, “and ice, and even a bird on occasion. But a boy?” He shook his head. “No, there’s another explanation somewhere, and it’s got me worried. According to the old stories, there’s nothing north of here but madness. So what if that’s where he comes from? Eh?” He walked to the door, then turned and glared at Petrel. “What if he comes from somewhere north? And what if he’s brought a bit of that madness with him?” ~Krill planting a seed of doubt in Petrel’s mind.
I think the cover fits the book because it is about about a large boat. But the title did confuse me a little bit. The cover is very attention grabbing and a great visual description of the story.
So many characters! But as the story follows Petrel she is the focus and the most rounded character. There is Petrel and Fin who are both on their own missions. Petrel makes one friend aboard the ship Squid. She also has two Imp companions and their many rat followers. Then it extends to the other members of the crew and boat itself.
Mr Smoke and Mrs Slink. I have to agree with Belinda on this one; they added so much humor and fun to the story. I have to say that I loved Petrel too; she is very brave.
Dolph is a pretty nasty character. She does have reasons to be upset and angry but I think her character overall becomes more of a villain in this story line.
Petrel is introduced to us as being the only person on the boat that does not belong to one of the tribes. Her parents were considered traitors and now she is an orphan and she plays more of a stowaway role on the story as none of the tribes will take her in. She has to sneak around, steal food, and stay out of the way or risk the possibility of being thrown overboard. One day she is watching the icebergs and notices a boy on the ice. She makes some of the adults on board aware of him, and they decide to bring him aboard, completely causing uproar among all of the boat’s residents.
A stranger on board is against all reasoning and is a bad omen. When the captain turns up dead, the stranger is blamed and a search party and war-like state takes hold of the boat. Petrel decides to rescue the boy, she knows he is innocent. With the help of her friends she must warn the residents of danger and save them all from destruction.
The ending was perfect, pulling the whole story together. It also leaves open possibilities for continuing the stories of these characters.
I did not read anything about the book before going into it, not even the back cover, but I really enjoyed it. In a way, it sort of reminded me of Maria V Snyder’s Inside Out duology (which I loved) It is a great story for young readers and teens. Strong characters and engaging plot.
“Petrel leaned on the rail, watching the ice cave and stamping her feet for warmth. The berg came closer. That’s when she saw him. Laid out on the ice like a dead fish, with a scattering of snow covering his face. A boy, where there should have been nothing but the memory of winter. A frozen boy.’
The cover has a girl against the backdrop of a dark sky, a rat on each of her shoulders. A ship navigating through a glacier studded sea is in the foreground. The title is in a font reminiscent of cogs. It works well to give the book the feel of middle-grade fantasy with highlights on the things that are important to the story.
There are three tribes in Ice Breaker, and neither of the two main characters belong to any of them. Petrel has been an outcast on her ship for as long as she can remember and Fin is new to the ship, the Oyster, having been found half-frozen on a glacier.
Petrel. She’s tough and can survive almost anything. Despite the life she’s led, she’s also kind and able to empathise with people – even the ones who have hurt her.
I couldn’t pick anyone. I wasn’t fond of Fin at the beginning but as you get to know where he came from and what he’s been through, he grows on you.
It’s an ordinary day for Petrel. Just as she finds a warm enough place to sleep the ship’s children are chasing her off again. To get away she heads out into the frigid cold of the deck, and finds a boy half-frozen on a glacier.
For years the ship has been divided into three factions – all at war with one another. Now, for the first time, they realise that they might all have a greater common enemy.
Ice Breaker has a satisfying, tidy ending. I’m looking forward to the sequel, but there’s no nasty cliff-hanger here.
I devoured this book. From beginning to end, I was hooked. I love the way that Lian Tanner melds real-world ethics to her fantasy without turning her novels into morality stories. Her books are technically for a younger readership but she doesn’t shy away from harsh realities or speak down to her readers; making these novels compelling for people of any age. There’s a psychological depth to Ice Breaker that many YA and adult novels lack. The imagination behind her fantasy worlds never fails to stun me either.
‘And with that she was gone, leaving the boy shocked beyond belief. She had given him a name! She had forced a name on him, when he had neither earned it nor wanted it!’
Familiarity breeds contempt, Do you think it would it be possible for people to stay in such close proximity for 300 years and not all die from our own stupidity?
The theme of theology versus technology is not a new one. Given that current technological trends are fast destroying the planet is it naive to show technology as being something flawless that should be whole-heartedly embraced?
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 18th 2015 by Feiwel & Friends (first published November 1st 2013)
ISBN 1250052165 (ISBN13: 9781250052162)