Book Review: Cold Earth by Sarah Moss

Ahahahahahahaha! OK, this book isn’t supposed to be funny but it’s only for the fact that I laughed through most of it (albeit when I wasn’t supposed to) that it gets 5 stars and not one.

Oh dear, oh dear. Plot idea = great. Execution = erm, not. When I first read the blurb on the back of this I really thought I was in for a treat. Six archaelogoists on a dig in Greenland and then they get news of an epidemic back home and their communication with the outside world falls away and they are left stranded with not enough food or shelter. The book is written in the form of last letters home by each member of the party in turn.

So what happened? Very little, as it goes. Each character was so underdeveloped I didn’t give a monkeys about any of them, the “inbetween plot” of ghosties and ghoulies haunting their little camp was hilarious and not in any particular order that I could fathom and there were so many academic “in-jokes” that had me groaning on almost a page-by-page basis. I know this book was written by a senior literature professor, but seriously love, stick to your day job. Frankly most of the narrative left me appalled by its stiltedness and the oodles of references to 19th century classics only served to show off the authors knowledge than to enhance the plot in any way. Why did we need to know what picture was on the cover of Villette and Middlemarch? I sort of got the impression that alot of the authors own opinions were coming through her characters (imparticular Nina): there were left-wing views, snobbery about package holidays, views on femenism and all that had no relevence to the plot.

One of my favourtie parts was when the group had realised that they had had no internet connection for several days. They were wondering if maybe the epidemic had spread from the USA to Europe. So instead of testing a website in, say, Australia or Malaysia what do they do? Check a real-estates in Scotland and the Guardian Newspaper, that’s what. Genius!

So, the 5 stars – I laughed. I laughed a lot. And, weirdly, I felt compelled to keep reading. Did I enjoy this book? Yes, sort of. Would I recommend it? No.


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