Book Review: Ice Planet Goth

Ice Planet Goth (Originally Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth, which I must mention as I personally loved the original title) by Andrez Bergen is optimistically due for release early in 2014.

The year is 1986. The place is Nede (say it ‘needy’) Australia. Mina Rapace is sixteen. She’s dealing with familiar woes that come with her age–challenges at school, fitting in with her friends, dealing with boys, obsessing over comics and music, clashes with family. We’ve all been there.

That’s the outer layer of the onion that is Mina’s life–just the thin, papery brown top layer. Let’s peel that off and take a second look. Mina’s music is goth, her comics are vintage and she knows them frighteningly well. Her friendships are toxic, and that includes a rather startling imaginary one. Her mother is dead and her brother is a horrid beast. As for the boys… impossible and abusive relationships are all she knows.

That plump onion still has more layers to scrape through, bringing fresh tears to your eyes as each is revealed. By the time you reach the center of that pungent orb, you’ll discover it’s been rotting from the inside all along.

But, to continue my analogy, onions are a traditional source of strength and healing. Even as Mina copes with her increasingly rotting life, she exhibits a surprising strength in the face of circumstances that would defeat most.

Those of a certain age will enjoy the nostalgic details of the ‘80’s, reminisce with every song reference, and smile at the fashion choices of the day. But you’ll do so while hanging on tight by your fingernails. I had faith in Mina, even when it seemed absurd to hold out hope. She didn’t fail me. In the end, somewhere in the jumble of mixed emotions I was wrestling with, I felt compelled to applaud.

Ice Planet Goth may be a difficult read for delicate sorts, but it’s well worth the journey. I knew by page three that I was in it to the end. I could never resist an onion, truth be told.

As a bonus, fans of Andrez Bergen’s previous novels may recognize some familiar references. One made me grin, and another made me cheer out loud.

Cover art will be provided by the talented, manga-influenced artist, Kmye Chan.

Other reviews of Andrez Bergen novels at A License to Quill:

Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?

 100 Years of Vicissitude

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