ICELING by Sasha Stephenson


Age Range: 12 - 16
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Discovered by scientists in the Canadian Arctic and later adopted, a group of speechless but intense and powerful teens compel their older siblings to return them to that site a decade and a half later.

With their scientist parents in Ecuador, Lorna, 17, is responsible for her sister, Callie, an Arctic Recovery Orphan. Constructing an ingenious model of their destination (à la Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Callie persuades Lorna to take her there. Lorna and Stan, whose ARO brother is similarly obsessed, shoulder the task. Packing snacks, warm clothes, and phone charger, the four leave Pennsylvania—guided by the AROs (Lorna names them Icelings)—and head northeast, meeting and joining with other sibling groups along the way. At a police checkpoint, only those traveling with AROs are permitted to cross into Canada. One driver, Bobby, might know what’s at stake, but he’s not sharing. Lorna, Stan, and the rest, mystified but loyal, follow their siblings’ leads. Readers will be equally confused: by the strange geography (Meat Cove, Nova Scotia, is nowhere near the Arctic) and confusing, contradictory plot. Long interior monologues fail to explain Lorna’s senseless—at times, risibly so—choices. Otherworldly discoveries are rendered in mundane imagery, while the identically pale, light-eyed, fair-haired Icelings suggest pallid takes on John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos (1957) and its comic-book and video game progeny. Narrator Lorna indicates no racial distinction between her and her sister, leading readers to believe she is white.

Faced with the inconsistent plotting, indifference to geography and climate, and sloppy execution, readers are more likely to abandon this series opener halfway than to wait for Volume 2. (Science fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 13th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-59514-769-1
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2016


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