Review Blog

Jul 03 2017

Ice Breaker by Lian Tanner

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The Hidden series, book 1. Allen and Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781760293178. (First published 2013. Rejacketed.)
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy; Adventure; Friendship; 'Junk Punk'; Overcoming adversity; Conflict. This is the first book in The Hidden series of fantasy adventure set in a strange time on board an ancient icebreaker in an environment marked by icebergs, pack ice and extreme cold, and a reverence for all things mechanical! And there is a 'sleeping captain' that provides a mysterious backstory that is intriguing and hinted at rather than given strong detail to explain why this rusting and antique vessel exists in this austere location. The ship is the home to an isolated community that is strongly caste-like and divided based on their roles on board the ship. In this fiercely contested hierarchy we see the world through the eyes of the central character, Petrel. Petrel's parents had defied the hierarchical rules, to their peril. Petrel lives an outcast's life, hidden amongst pipes and corridors and shunned by the entire ship's population. Mostly she is just ignored, but a few are openly hostile and she is friendless (except for the ship rats). The plot shifts when a boy, abandoned on the pack ice is pulled aboard. His story hints at an ancient conflict, and he is embroiled in a destructive plan that is kept a closely guarded secret. Petrel though, displays remarkable qualities and kindness towards this potential enemy and together they hide and scramble to escape the ship's hostility after they are accused of a crime.
The setting of this book is unique and the 'Junk punk' genre (hints at the past and with less than perfect technology) creates an interesting backdrop to a story about outcasts and conflict, with a fantasy with some technology twists!
Highly recommended for readers aged 11. This is an intriguing and exciting journey from start to finish.
Carolyn Hull

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