** - Camp Zero
MICHELLE MIN STERLING
America, 2049: Summer temperatures are intolerably high, the fossil fuel industry has shut down, and humans are implanted with a 'Flick' at birth, which allows them to remain perpetually online. The wealthy live in the newly created Floating City off the coast, while people on the mainland struggle to get by. For Rose, a job as a hostess in the city's elite club feels like her best hope for a better future.
At a Cold War-era research station, a group of highly trained women with the code name White Alice are engaged in climate surveillance. But the terms of their employment become increasingly uncertain.
And in a former oil town in northern Canada called Dominion Lake, a camp is being built-Camp Zero. A rare source of fresh, clean air and cooler temperatures, it will be the beginning of a new community and a new way of life. Grant believes it will be the perfect place to atone for his family's dark legacy.
Everyone has an agenda. So who can you trust? Could falling in love be most the radical act of all?
Thrilling, immersive and disturbingly prescient, Camp Zero is about the world we've built and where we go from here.
MY REVIEW **
I was really excited to get an ARC for Camp Zero, and it was at the top of my anticipated TBR pile for ages. I’ve been enjoying the ‘Frostpunk’ game series at the moment and the idea of a post-apocalyptic camp in eternal winter really appealed.
The story is told through three perspectives – there’s Rose; an escort who has started to work in a newly built camp in the North, Grant; a teacher who has also joined the camp to escape his family’s reputation and the ladies of The White Alice Camp. There isn’t a notion of time or place with these perspectives though, and we are unsure if the timelines are running together or not. We quickly learn that Rose and Grant are in the same time and place as they meet each other but it is a good 90% of the way through the book before we learn how the White Alice storyline fits into any of the narrative.
This was my main issue with Camp Zero, I was expecting either a pacy apocalyptic thriller – a race against the elements to survive, or perhaps a character driven psychological thriller full of secrets and tension and betrayal. Sadly, Camp Zero seems to have none of these elements. There isn’t really much of a plot, what is there is mostly either flashback or build up which leads nowhere. Annoyingly, the book then also ends on a cliff-hanger to what would seem like a much more interesting and action-packed story.
Grants flashbacks are interesting and heart-breaking in places, but I didn’t really feel much for any of the characters as a whole. The blooms are never really explored in much detail beyond broad brush-stokes and the same can be said of the construction workers. At the end the book then shines a spotlight on characters which you have initially dismissed as background characters because they didn’t have much relevance to the plot.
Overall, Camp Zero was just a lot of build-up with zero payoff, with vague characters and very little plot. Thank you to NetGalley & John Murray Press for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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