Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Review: Ice Station

Ice Station by Matthew Reilly

Read: 20 July - 1 August 2010
Pages: 689

Back cover: "At a remote ice station in Antarctica, a team of US scientists has made an amazing discovery. They have found something buried deep within the coastal ice shelf. Something trapped inside a 100-million-year-old layer of ice. Something made of metal.

It is the discovery of a lifetime.
A discovery of immeasurable value.
A discovery men would kill for...

Led by an enigmatic Lieutenant Shane Schofield, a team of crack United States Marines is rushed to the station to secure this discovery for their country. They are a tight unit. Tough and fearless. They would follow their leader into hell. They just did...

In a land without boundaries, the only law is survival."

Fun, non-stop action

This is the fifth Matthew Reilly book I've read (others include the Jack West Jr. series and Temple), and as he writes your typical formulaic thrillers, I knew what to expect: Lots of action and fighting, a conspiracy of some sort and stereotypical characters. I got all that from Ice Station, plus the added bonus of actually liking and believing in several of the characters (as opposed to Temple, which I mostly wanted to throw out the window).

Ice Station is non-stop action: the first gunfight is underway on page 80 and neither the main characters nor the readers get a chance to catch their breath until the very end. Some of the scenes do require some serious suspension of disbelief, but for the most part I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. I wish Reilly didn't feel the need to educate me on all the different types of weapons used though – I don't care if the bad guys are shooting at the good guys with a MP-5 or a FA-MAS assault rifle or even a crossbow – I just want to know who gets hit.

Reilly is not afraid of killing off his characters, which serves to make the story more realistic – yes, good guys die. People are introduced on one page and killed on the next. The main character, Lt. Shane "Scarecrow" Schofield is an interesting guy who comes across as capable and credible – not something that can be said for most of Reilly's characters (I refer again to the utter rubbish that is Temple). There were also a couple of delightful instances of self-irony which I adored.

One of my problems with Reilly is his habit of using italics and/or exclamation marks to underline something bad/unexpected happening, which I find very annoying. It wasn't as prominent in this book as in Seven Ancient Wonders, but it still happens a lot. A few examples:
Kirsty squealed in surprise, looked up, and saw that she had hit the underside of the bridge. She couldn't go any further up!

They were melting the ice around them, and were now starting to slide out from the wall!
I tend to notice the typography more than the actual content in these cases, which interferes with the pace of the story.

All in all this was an enjoyable thriller which made me want to read the next book in the Scarecrow series. My only wish is that Reilly could have found a way of making the Australians and not the Americans the heroes. Now that would have been fun.

My rating: 4


Joanne P said...

This is my all time favourite from Reilly (the first of his I read also). When I read it many years ago I did recall thinking it was a little odd, an Australian author making Americans the heroes.

Trillian said...

I've not read anything by this author before as it's not a genre I read a lot of. This sounds good though so I might give it a try. Thanks for sharing a great review!

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