Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth by Andrez Bergen
|Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth by Andrez Bergen|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: From Goth coming-of-age to violently gothic, Andrez wanted his own style mixed with a bit of Edgar Allan Poe and he got the recipe spot on.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 342||Date: July 2014|
|Publisher: Perfect Edge|
|External links: Author's website|
16 year old Mina lives in Nede (that's 'Needy' out loud), a suburb of the Australian state of Victoria where she's in the final throes of school. However she feels very much an outsider, especially after the recent death of her mother. Mina's alienated further by her bullying elder brother and her father's attempts to move on with his life before Mina is ready. She has friends that she spends time with in a disinterested Goth way, the friend who understands her most being Animeid. Animeid is even more different than Mina, being half-girl, half-bird, but neither of them seems to mind. It doesn't affect anyone else after all – Mina's the only person who can see her.
Aussie born, Japan-adopted Andrez Bergen has a reputation for surprise and originality. This is only the second of his books that I've read but I'd say that reputation is founded on fact. In a single bound we've gone from murder among the super hero community in the comic fantasy noir Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? to this, just as surreal but darker shocker. ('Shocker' in a good way!)
From the beginning our hearts go out to Mina because, although she isn't someone we understand, we want to delve past all the pain and bereavement she's been through and try. (Whether she wants us to or not.) Her family (father Jim and brother Patrick) are periphery people whom we don't get to know that well as Mina won't let us. This is her story and she (along with Animeid) is the nucleus.
Mina is someone I'm betting that most will react to strongly. Although fascinated by her, I grew to like her invisible friend more. Animeid has a great sense of irony coupled with an ability to sum up a situation in a sentence or even a word. Her ideas are a tad on the unconventional side but then so is she. Who is she? What is she? We're invited to form our own opinions around Andrez's cleverly arranged set pieces.
Cleverly arranged? Oh definitely – Mr Bergen is a very intelligent author, much to our entertainment and delight. The cultural jokes that peppered Heropa before now give way to word play and some seemingly insignificant touches that come to mean so much.
There are also references that draw us back to the 80s. Some (like Mina's love of Joy Division and New Order) will mean something to readers in both hemispheres. Whereas a couple (like references to Melbourne's fixed fun fair, Luna Park) encourage us to scuttle off to our favourite search engine. Having said that, we can all remember what it was to be young and we all knew a Mina on the edge of a school-aged social circle.
The really devious thing is that, just when we feel we're coming to grips with Mina's world, we're thrown into violent mayhem and a jaw-dropping finale. Andrez may have left the laughs of Heropa behind but this dark, cynical volume isn't the sort of thing we read only once. Having got to the end I had to re-read just to pick up the clues that I'd missed. Indeed a masterly touch, Mr B!
(Thank you, Perfect Edge, for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: It goes without saying that if you like murder combined with giggles combined with the world of Marvel comics you would love Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?. If you don't or are already a Bergenite and want to go back to the source of his inspiration, we also heartily recommend [Tales of Death and Dementia by Edgar Allan Poe and Gris Grimly]]
You can read more book reviews or buy Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth by Andrez Bergen at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth by Andrez Bergen at Amazon.com.
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