Ice Hunt, by James Rollins - A Blizzard of Bad Things
Here at the ShortStoryTeller, we are huge fans of Michael Crichton. HUGE FANS. Each new Sparrow thriller tries to match Crichton’s dedication to research and credibility.
How does Rollins measure up to Crichton? Let’s find out.
An international team aboard an expeditionary submarine spots an abandoned Soviet research station and decides to investigate.
A Russian admiral with a secret mission embarks to intercept them aboard an attack submarine.
And a former commando, current game warden in Alaska, dealing with divorce and coping with personal tragedy, rescues a reporter who was being flown in to join the international research team.
Soon the scientific team discovers frozen monsters and buried secrets in the station, code-named ‘Grendel.’ The Russian military might be on their way to destroy the station and all of the mysteries it holds. The Russians are definitely intent on killing the reporter… but why?
Rollins keeps the intense pace going, from page one until the very end, through the military gunfights and ambushes, mutant monsters hidden in the underground darkness of the station, and the ever-present threat of blizzards and solar flares that have isolated all of the characters in this environment.
The Characters: 3 Out Of 5 Stars
Listen, I had pretty much identified this rating as soon as I met the deaf girl.
I’m a fan of representing disabled characters in stories like this. But Rollins didn’t really give Dr. Reynolds her fair representation.
She still participates in conversation and group discussion completely normally. Sure, she can read lips—but in group discussions, everyone tends to talk at once, and somehow she can listen to all of them.
She uses a walkie talkie with a superhuman sense of touch, detecting the speaker vibrations. She can also sense subsonic whale communication.
This rating also came down due to the unrealistic portrayal of the military, which is all too common in these kinds of books. If you read the Amazon reviews of this book, this is a complaint that comes up frequently.
However, the rating came back up because the characters are easily relatable. It’s easy to identify with the grief of a parent who has lost a child, or a woman who wants to prove her capability to her father.
The Science: 3 Out Of 5 Stars
The reason I love Crichton so much is because his scientific research is so airtight. His books are instantly credible, and you never question whether the impossible plot elements are possible because Crichton makes everything scientifically possible.
Rollins, like so many other techno-thriller authors, doesn’t bother with this kind of research.
A quick Google inquiry will tell you that ‘SONAR’ stands for ‘sound navigation and ranging.’ If creatures are using sound for communication, that’s called talking. ‘Communicating through sonar?’ REALLY? That's unnecessarily scientific.
Simple mistakes, like assuming that bear mace is more potent than self-defense pepper spray, would be forgivable. Unfortunately, you have to forgive the author on nearly every page for these assumptions.
The Action: 5 Out Of 5 Stars
Here’s where the author really shines. The action is pretty intense throughout the book, and you’ll find yourself flipping pages and always continuing to the next chapter.
You’ll feel the rancid, hot breath of monstrous creatures, and shudder in fear.
You’ll worry that the characters won’t be able to escape the Russians, or survive the chase scenes, or live through the fire fights.
Rollins steadily increases the stakes in each chapter. Although I was listening to this book on audio, I found it hard to press the pause button.
I think you’ll find it hard to stop reading/listening also.
The Recommendation: 4 / 5 Stars.
Listen, I know that not many other readers get hung up on plausible science and realistic characters.
Most readers want characters they can identify with. And Ice Hunt gives you relatable characters.
Most readers want non-stop action and thrills. Ice Hunt delivers monsters, Russian soldiers, and rocket-propelled grenades.
Rollins is no Crichton. But Ice Hunt is an exciting, fast-paced read that I think most readers will really enjoy.
If you’ve read other books by James Rollins, comment below and give us your recommendations! And if you are looking for a techno-thriller with more consistent characters and better-researched science, go get Carried Away, Sparrow’s pandemic thriller!