Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Review [Storming the Black Ice]

Forewarning:  This is an adult, military fiction novel.  The following review may contain brief references of gore and bloodshed.  I do not recommend readers under the age of 18.

Storming the Black Ice
Pacific Rim Series (Book 3): A Novel
Don Brown

Publisher:  Zondervan
Genre:  Military [Adult] Fiction
Released:  2014

[rear cover]
When British geologists discover he world's largest oil reserves under the desolate, icy tundra of Antarctica, Britain and Chile form a top-secret alliance for control of petroleum resources that will rival the economic power of OPEC.

But when their discovery is uncovered by an Argentinean intelligence officer, a surprise-attack against a secret British outpost in Antarctica triggers a war.  Britain and Chile are in a military standoff against Venezuela and Argentina, and when the war escalates, Britain asks America for help.

For two couples separated by the battle, the outcome will be either love reunited or devastating heartbreak.

For a young British boy living with his mother in London, his father's life is on the line.

And Pete Miranda, an American sub commander detailed on a special military assignment to his father's homeland of Chile, will face either a crushing death under the icy-cold waters of the Antarctic Ocean or a future of life, light, and a chance at love.

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WARNING: Possible Spoilers
with brief mention of blood & gore. . .

This novel was so good.  Not really knowing what to expect from a book I had not heard of and an author I was not familiar with, I was genuinely surprised and impressed by the quality of plot-line and writing style.  If you like military fiction and are not grossed out by blood and the emotional trauma of war, you will enjoy this book.

NOTE:  This is the third book from the Pacific Rim series, and while I have not read any of the other two previous novels, this particular one can, in my opinion, stand alone.  (Normally, I do not read a sequel in a series if I haven't read the first, but when I came upon this one, it seemed to not be wholly connected, if at all, to the others and I just had to try it out.  So glad I did.)

[The Basics]
Okay.  For starters, as in most fictional stories, I expected to read about the life and happenings of a single main character and his/her co-characters.  Not the case in this tale.  From start to finish, I counted 23 total characters, with whom we get a taste, or more than a taste, of their personal perspectives and point-of-views (POV).  This is extremely difficult for an author to successfully write from even the POV of two or three characters, much less twenty-three!  Don Brown does an excellent job, in my opinion, of giving his readers the feel of knowing ALL sides of the story.  And by no means is it confusing.  I found it quite easy to keep up and follow the story-line.  Don't worry though, a good number of those twenty-three characters are merely introduced when what's happening in their area of the world is critical to the story.  Most you see once, maybe twice, and not again.  But still, it contributes brilliantly to the story and is necessary that you read of them at that moment and time.  Also, the POVs are not just those of the "good" guys, but spreads internationally, so that we get an idea of the ideals and beliefs of both sides.

Moving on.  The plot centers on the amazing discovery of crude oil reserves in none other than the frozen tundras of Antarctica.  As mentioned in the description above, Britain and Chile are united in this finding and do all in their power to keep it secret until the opportune moment in which they can safely proclaim their treasure to the world, without starting a war.  Their plan was fool-proof, until a young Argentinean intelligence officer, operating on his country's Antarctic base, intercepts their radio traffic and relays to his superiors that treasure has been found beneath their very feet.  An attack is surmounted on the British base where two Brit officers and civilian engineers are forced to surrender and taken prisoner. 

It escalates even further from there.

[Positives]
There are good men on both sides.

[SPOILER!] One officer essentially betrays his own country to help the British prisoners under the command of a wicked and corrupt capitán.

A sub commander, after sinking an enemy submarine in successful combat, refuses to let his men rejoice, knowing full well the cost of serving one's country.

[Negatives]
One man, a civilian, is shot point-blank between the eyes by an enemy capitán who is consumed by revenge and rage, and who deems it justice.

The treatment of prisoners by the Argentinean capitán is inhumane and against the rules and regulations of international POWs (prisoners of war).  He plans to execute a Brit as a show of force in order to get the other prisoners to comply to his demands, with the idea of extracting information.

A British SBS (Special Boat Service) officer, after daring escape, captures above-mentioned enemy commander and gives him a taste of his own medicine.  (More on that in Violence.)

[Spiritual Content]
Christian fiction.  And beautifully done!  The love of Christ is seen through the faith and courage of many characters, even those classified as the enemy.  Scripture is quoted.  Genuine prayers for forgiveness and protection are stated--some answered, others not.

A good bit of this novel takes place with South American characters, so naturally, Roman Catholicism is clearly a belief.

When a ship is hit by torpedoes, sailors cry out to Mary, the mother of God--"Hail Mary, full of grace. . ."  A sub is fatally hit by torps and likewise, pleas for hopeless rescue come in cries of "Oh, dear God, no!" "Dear Jesus, help me!"  Heartbreaking, really.  

An elderly nun appears to a couple characters to whisper words of encouragement, then seemingly vanishes.  It is implied that the characters think of her as a angel, for she comes with strengthening words of comfort and courage.

[Violence]
This is a military novel.  So, obviously there will be blood and violence.  Lots of blood.

A British outpost in Antarctica is attacked.  Men are shot and either wounded or killed instantly.  The Brits are captured and taken prisoner.  The Argentinean capitán who comes to take over treats them atrociously, demanding obedience.  With his beloved revolver, he forces a poor British civilian to "dance" by shooting bullets into the ground at his feet, humiliating the pleading prisoner, and wickedly mocking England and their culture of chilvary and knighthood, "knighting" the man before shooting him at point-blank range.  We read that the back of his head is blown away.  

Another man is pistol-whipped to the cheek and knocked to the ground.  

The British SBS officer responsible for the civilians and another comrade, after escaping capture gives the Argentinean commander a whipping with the man's own revolver, hitting him twice in the face and once more in the groin.

Ships and submarines are torpedoed and sunk or left to limp to the nearest port.  Men drown in the icy-cold waters of the Antarctic.  

[Language, Drugs & Alcohol]
"Expletives" are stated, but never written out.  One "son of a--" is never finished.  Likewise, two "what the--" are never completed.  Several "bloodies" are thrown in by British characters.

Some characters smoke cigars.  Alcohol is present, drinking and pubs are mentioned, toasts are toasted--but not the kind with butter, mind you.

[Love-y Content]
There is obvious attraction between two characters, Pete and Maria.  They go out for a couple dates, one time ending at her home, where they share passionate smooching (snogging, if you're from the UK area), and she invites to show him a tour of her home and bedroom.  He says that's not a good idea, and fortunately for us, is saved by the bell (or I'm not sure he could've resisted much longer).  Literally.  His phone rings, and he must attend to his duties as a sub commander.  Still, the attraction is there and they come to care deeply for each other.

In the history of two characters, Meg and Austin, we learn they had a one night stand that resulted in a young son out of wedlock.  However, though still wrong in every way, both come to love each other to the point that Meg travels half-way across the world to be there for Austin in his hour of need.  It is implied that they become a complete family.  

Other characters, Bob and Shelley, once engaged, yet wrongly terminated by her due to a injury and the fact he could no longer serve as a military man, find they still care for the other even though many years have passed.

Maria dresses like a fashion model.  Short dresses and skirts that draw attention to her legs, fitted blouses, designer jeans.  We come to know that Pete has a HARD time not getting distracted.

[Conclusion]
All in all, I loved this book!  It was super intense, a great story that kept me on my toes and constantly flipping pages.  I have never read a book where so many characters played a part and I salute Mr. Brown in doing such an awesome job.  It was so neat to see the perspectives of both sides and in a way that wasn't confusing for me as the reader.  So well done!  However, because it is military, and due to the gore and graphics of this novel, I would not recommend just anyone reading this.

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Recommended ages:  18+

This book was provided to me thanks to BookLookBloggers.com.

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