Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Ice Cap and the Rift - Marshall Chamberlain

Summary: A COMBOQUAKE RAKES THE MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE. A FIFTEEN MILE RIFT RIPS ACROSS AN ICELANDIC ICE CAP. A DISSECTED CAVE HOLDS MYSTERIOUS ANCIENT TECHNOLOGY. John Henry Morgan, ex-Marine, Director of the United Nation's Institute for the Study of Unusual Phenomena, returns from the devastating attack on ISUP's Mountain project in Belize only to be cast into the aftermath of the Comboquake and the dangers of the rift. Morgan and key ISUP staff mount an expedition to the rift and discover a cavern occupied one hundred and eighty thousand years ago, containing a perfectly preserved high-tech habitat and a traveling machine operated by unknown scientific principles. The benign scientific expedition to study the cave and its contents encounters deceit and violence as nations and terrorist groups ferret out the existence and significance of the discoveries, and mount sophisticated operations to acquire technological treasures for their own purposes. ISUP finds itself at the convergence of clandestine assault from several fronts. Violence escalates. Lives become expendable - a scenario that has plagued the human race through the chronicles of time. Frantic action: Prague, London, New York, Washington, D.C., Libya, France, Spain, China, Iceland. Across oceans and air lanes, factions grapple for power. Survival for the ISUP scientists and preservation of new technologies for the benefit of humanity lie in choices of whom to trust.  (Summary and Pic from goodreads.com)

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:This is book two in Chamberlain’s Ancestor Series, and as you may or may not remember (because I know ya’ll are hanging on to my every word), I didn’t love the first one.  I felt like it was confusing and super long and it just wasn’t great. I’m happy to report that this book was much better. First off, I feel like the writing was better. Even though Chamberlain was no novice when he wrote The Mountain Place of Knowledge, I could tell that he had improved with this book. It was much clearer what was going on, which was one of the big issues with the first book. Secondly, the story flowed more consistently, although it still wasn’t completely seamless. For instance, the book starts out with an earthquake (and not just any earthquake, a…wait for it…combo quake), and I’m still not sure what that earthquake had to do with anything. I mean, I could tell that the earthquake led to the scientists discovering…what they discover…but it seemed a little far-fetched why the one would cause the other. It was also unclear why the same scientists from the first book would be involved with the activities in this one because at first, they appear to be unrelated.

I think that the underlying issue is that Chamberlain has a very detailed story going on in his head and he knows where he wants it to go. He has characters he’s built up and wants to use, and he does keep things exciting with lots of thrilling adventures going on, but in the end, I don’t think he is able to translate all of that perfectly into a story because I was still left a little confused. It’s like when things are getting exciting and events are really happening, the story just sort of glosses over it or leaves out details that just leave the reader confused. Like I said, this is much better than the first book, but it still left me confused. I have wondered before if the confusion and missing details come from poor editing. Maybe the editor just starts cutting and cutting (and I could see how this could happen for length, because these books are quite long) and isn’t careful about where they’re cutting and then the reader, who is less familiar with this somewhat complicated story, is left in the dark along with the dangling participles.

As in the first book, there are lots of characters, and some of them only appear for a little while, so it’s hard to keep track of all of them. They’re not very developed, and that makes it hard to remember who is who or who works for who or whatever. There is a somewhat developing love story (I think?), but it is handled awkwardly and I’m not actually sure if that was what the “tinglings” he described meant. Maybe that was annoyance?  Anger? Rage? I’m not sure.  I think that Chamberlain is just excited about writing a fun, fast-paced story, which this is, but because of that he doesn’t spend much time character-building and that makes it difficult to understand what is going on from several different angles.

Overall, I feel like this was a much better read than the first, and I think the story has potential and definitely has some exciting things going on, but Chamberlain could use more finesse as a writer, and I think part of this could be accomplished with a really talented editor as well who could guide Chamberlain and also make decisions about what to keep and what to cut in the book to make it easier to read overall.

And there better be a next in the series. Because this one definitely leaves us hanging.

My Rating: 3 stars.

For the sensitive reader: There is some language and violence. It is on par with others in this genre.

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