The Ice Age by Kirsten Reed

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The Ice Age by Kirsten Reed

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A quirky coming of age story that's more miss than hit.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 288 Date: August 2011
Publisher: Picador
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1447200413

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Two people road trip across America. Sort of. They don't start off together, or meet up intentionally, and the age gap is purposely provocative. She likes him because he's old and has pointy, vampire teeth he might use to bite her with (Twilight sell out, much?) She is 17. We don't know her name, but it is she who tells us the story. He is called Gunther. People think she is his daughter. They hope she is. It's just too odd to comprehend otherwise.

They drive from town to town, heading aimlessly from one coast to the other. They take drugs. They swear. They sleep side by side but not together (though he always has to muss up the covers on the other bed, lest the maid get the wrong ideas). Their days pass. It's all very unsentimental. You start to wonder where it's going.

This is not the first provocative coming of age story I have read or watched, and invariably they involve younger girls and much older men. A Certain Age is one, An Education another. What they seem to have that Ice Age lacks, however, is a cohesive plot and a raison d'être. Because to me, though yes, the narrator does boast a realistic voice, she's not saying much with it. It's easy to read in a modern, minimalist way, but because there's no developing story my attention wasn't captured and mid-way through I really lost the will to read because it was clear nothing was going to happen.

It's an autobiographical book which is fair enough and does mean that, even with artistic licence, there could be a truthful basis for the stories. That said, just because something is true doesn't mean it's worth writing up and publishing because there's a lot of mundane stuff that goes on in life. Another reviewer hit the nail right on the head when he wrote she's not really a bad writer; she just thinks her subject-matter's more worthy and interesting than it is.

So many people have compared this book to others. Some say it's Alice In Wonderland, others claim it's Lolita. Many see it as A Catcher In The Rye or On The Road. While I can see their point in terms of either vague theme or (attempted) literary style, I think it's wrong to compare it to works of this magnitude, as it almost sets it up for failure. On its own, it's half decent, but up against them it's just naff.

Florence (of 'and the Machine' fame) loved the book. And they loved her loving it so much, they included her comment on the cover. Inside, another reviewer says that since Florence liked it, they're sure it's good too, which I'm not quite sure is enough of a basis for a thorough recommendation.

Ultimately, though the characters travel a long way, the book itself doesn't really go anywhere. If you don't mind that then you might find it worth a look simply for the readable style and neat observations that sometimes litter the pages, but if you like your stories to have a storyline, then this needn't go on the Must Read list.

Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book.

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Buy The Ice Age by Kirsten Reed at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Ice Age by Kirsten Reed at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Ice Age by Kirsten Reed at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Ice Age by Kirsten Reed at


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