Sun at Midnight by Rosie Thomas
Rating: Loved it!
Description: An epic love story and adventure set against the stunning backdrop of Antarctica.
Alice Peel is a geologist. She believes in observation and proof. But now she stands alone on the deck of a rickety Chilean ship as a stark landscape reveals itself. Instead of the familiar measurable world, everything that lies ahead of her is unknown and unpredictable. Six weeks earlier her life was comfortably unfolding in an Oxford summer. Then, with her relationship suddenly in pieces, she accepted an invitation to join a group working at the end of the earth: Antarctica.
James Rooker is a man on the run. He's been running since his childhood in New Zealand. Now, there is nowhere further to go. He has taken a job working on the same small Antarctic research station.
Alice discovers an ice-blue and silver world, lit by sunlight. Nothing has prepared her for the beauty of it, or the claustrophobia of a tiny base shared with eight men and one other woman. The isolation wipes out everyone's past, and tension crackles in the air. But there is a jolt of recognition between Alice and Rooker that is like nothing she has ever known. And it is in Antarctica that she discovers something else that will change her life forever!
Why I Picked This Book: Thomas's book Iris and Ruby was on of my favorite books of 2015 so I couldn't turn this one down - especially since it's set in Antarctica!
My Impression: If I was making a list of 10 places I never ever wanted to visit Antarctica would definitely be on that list! It's a terrifyingly inhospitable climate and it pretty much feels like Mother Nature is telling us to stay out. I fully plan on listening. However, after reading Sun at Midnight I understand why people want to go or dream of visiting. Life on base really came alive with its restrictions, close quarters, and varied personalities. As well the harsh unforgiving landscape outside the base became real as well and I couldn't help but google pictures of Antarctica to compare with what Thomas was bring to life as I was reading. I've always seen the danger and forbidding feel but I can see a bit more of the beauty now!
Alice is an interesting character. She's very literal which I could identify with and likes her life nice and predictable. She admires her famous explorer mother but has always been closer and identifies more with her more homebody father. I loved their interactions - especially when he doesn't say quite what she expects him to say. I also really enjoyed her relationships with her friends. Too often friendships between women in fiction feel too contentious or just ring false but this was not the case here. Alice's time in Antarctica was really wonderful as she is completely out of her element and has to figure out who she is and how to interact with those around her from scratch. We see quite a bit of life through the eyes of James Rooker as well. He's an interesting man with quite the past and I enjoyed his character even though I didn't identify with him as much as I did with Alice.
My only problem was that when we get to the base 9 characters are kind of dumped on us all at once and I struggled to get everyone sorted out at first. Since I'm talking maybe 20 pages of "wait a minute who is ? again?" it's a very minor quibble.
Thomas has a wonderful ability to make characters and places come alive in the pages. It's a slower read but so rich with detail that it makes for an interesting and delightful read. Plus, how many books take place in Antarctica?
Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely! This is the 3rd book from Thomas that I've read and I've really enjoyed them all.
Would I Recommend this Book? Definitely! If you enjoy fiction I think you'd enjoy this one.