This is what I wrote on November 12th:
I just finished this book. I'll write a real review later. But for now all I have is: Damn you, Dan Simmons. Damn. You.
It's almost a month later, and I still feel scarred by this book. Still. But I hate leaving books without reviews, so here's my sad, PTSDed attempt:
This book has an interesting premise: What really
happened to the doomed Franklin expedition. What did the men of the Terror and Erebus really go through during all of those months (years!) of their expedition. How did they really meet their end?
This book was amaze-balls in so many way. It is long, it is plodding, it is filled with historical facts that we probably don't need. But (big but there), I (usually) liked how the plodding tediousness of some of Simmons's storytelling really sets the tone for the plodding tediousness of the lives of these men.
My first attempt to read this book was aborted because it was in the middle of summer, and I just couldn't feel the icy-bleakness of the story. My next attempt, during the first cold-snap of the season, huddled under blankets with hot tea, was the way to go. The freezing temps of the book soaked me to my core when reading Simmons's prose.
His descriptions of the ice-monster were fantastic. The descriptions of the baiting, the taunting, the sentient being playing
with the men like a cat does a mouse were absolutely horrifying. The scene with the Carnivale (effing brilliant
) nearly scared the pee-water out of me.
Unfortunately, there would be these wonderfully horrific scenes with the ice monster and then 200 pages of nothing. I appreciated the slow pace of the book to an extent, but there's a fine line between keeping you waiting for more and then wondering when the hell he would get on with it already.
Oh, and the scurvy. I've read medical reports from my Civil-War ancestors about scurvy and not only how bad it sucked, but how it ruined their live and Simmons's descriptions are horrifying in their accuracy.
Seriously, the guy did a great job. Until the end.
The sudden whiplash ending that left you saying "WTF, REALLY?" knocked an entire star off of this book for me. This was a four star book. This was a really, really good book, until the sudden change in narration/writing happened, and suddenly we were reading an entirely different book, with an entirely different tone and just sucked the enjoyment out of it for me. I feel like he could have put the information he gave you during the last couple of chapters into the story without ruining it, but he didn't, c'est la vie.
This book could have been amazing; it was so close, and yet, so far.