Book reviews / Science Fiction

Book Review: Ice

I really should give up on reading older novels, I never tend to like them.

Ice by Anna Kavan was written in 1967 and was supposed to be about the advancing glacial ice consuming the world. However, it was mostly about an obsessive man chasing after a woman. But also imagining different violent ways she could die. It was a bit confusing.

Some sites say that it is proto-feminist and that the creepy dude doing the long-distance stalking stands for something and the woman stands for something else (there are no names, just woman, man and the Warden.) Fine. MAYBE that is a thing. But as some random person reading a novel, it’s creepy and weird and not all that fun to read.

ice cavan

First of all, there’s no textual breaks. So it goes from describing a potentially real thing that is happening (walking through the street or forest) to something that is completely unreal (coming across barbarians with a battle going on). And you have to re-read it a few times to get the sense of what is real and not real. It’s basically just confusing and happens randomly so it’s hard to pick out.

Fine it’s a narrative thing. But it’s an annoying narrative thing and I disliked it.

The other main thing is the woman and how she’s described and treated. It’s the whole constantly referred to as girl thing that is creepy and weird (like in really gross ways about being an adolescent body etc). The fact that three different men are after her at various points (with all of them being angry and/or violent towards here) is also super creepy. The narrator (the man) is the creepiest as he imagines weird and violent things (like what it would be like to break her wrist bones). As well, there are at least two scenes where the man is either imagining her being raped (by the Warden – like why?) or rapes her himself.

So fine, if there is some deeper textual analysis maybe than whatever. But I’m not really paying attention to that, so I just find it creepy and awful. The man really gets weirder as the book gets along. The woman has no agency and also just not there as a character.

You don’t even really know why the ice is coming! It’s just coming. There’s no real structure to the plot and it’s more like an impression of a plot. The first section involving the Warden was relatively structured – in that the man went about trying to find out where the woman was. Things happen in more or less an orderly fashion. But when the Warden escapes the town with the woman, everything goes a bit fluid. It just jumps from scene to scene without any semblance of reality to it. Fine. So its more impressionistic than plotted. I can deal with that.

Anyway. I really disliked it. I found it creepy and weird and not that fun to read. The end.

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