Part Back to the Future with slivers of an Inconvenient Truth, Frank’s debut science-fiction novel starts with a fatal accident and ends with social and environmental responsibility.
A successful advertising executive, 42-year-old Summer has had over a dozen years of stressful board meetings, aggressive negotiations and an impressive winning streak of international accounts. But her high-octane life plummets out of control as subordinates conspire, and memory lapses make her the target of office gossip. She needs a break, a true holiday and rejuvenation. At her boss’ request, Summer books a hiking trip to Alaska, intent on climbing cliffs and rediscovering her inner tiger. As night sets over the terrain, her mind wanders and her footing fails. She stumbles into a crevasse, where her body remains in ice for more than 70 years. With a stellar opening and the naturally compelling question of “what happens next?”, the novel unravels the intricate details of Summer’s second life after she is found and revived from the snowcaps. Her old world is dead, wiped away by human wars and natural disasters. People have retreated into the wild, carving out small villages that live sustainably close to the land. Food is grown in gardens, and communities function as families. Summer struggles in this world where no one keeps secrets, fast food is extinct and love begins to thaw her cold heart. While the first three chapters show great promise in terms of pacing and prose, conflict and science-fictional aspects of the story fall to the wayside. Readers will ask themselves why certain characters are introduced in detail and then simply dropped from the narrative. At several points, the story analyzes humanity’s culpability in its own demise. For pages, Frank dispenses a dissertation of synthetic foods, artificial preservatives, pollution and even the idea of “latchkey kids.” As a result, the story resembles a lengthy lecture of humanity’s irresponsible behavior rather than an exploratory journey through time. While science fiction often touches on these themes, this book lacks the dramatic drive of other futuristic tales.
With an honorable message of sustainability and a compelling opening sequence, the book struggles to deliver the sense of wonder and discovery that often defines this genre.