Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Approximate word count: 55-60,000 words
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Alexander Keena lives in London, England where he was born. He has worked in a wide range of jobs and met many different people, which he brings to his books.
Five students end up marooned in the middle of a frozen lake in the depths of winter after a car crash. With no phone signal and the weather worsening there seems no hope of rescue and less chance of getting off the lake alive.
Following a potentially interesting premise, I have to say I was hugely disappointed by this book. It proved to be by turns frustrating, bizarre and disjointed. The five characters who are trapped on the lake – Matt, Sam, Mya, Lisa and Essie – are fairly insubstantial beings. I couldn’t relate to or like any of them. All were irritating in their own way and not even worth describing.
One by one the students, unable to get off the lake because as soon as they move any distance from the car the ice cracks, thankfully die off in a variety of ways until about half way through when a mystery man appears. He manages to walk across the same ice no-one else could to rescue two survivors. In a couple of pages, the author wipes out the whole basis of the novel. But it’s not over yet because Thin Ice gets really odd once the pair are in hospital they’re attacked by one of the apparent dead.
The story then really goes off the bizarre scale when the one last survivor is suddenly at the man’s house who rescued them. No explanation why. Then she’s back in the hospital, then at a funeral, then in a mine being chased down by the rescuer, all with no understandable and believable transition between the locations. It’s as cheesy as ripe brie.
But there’s more. You may or may not remember the original Dallas series, when Bobby ‘dies’ and a series later comes back from the dead? If not, look it up. Well, that’s what Thin Ice is all about…I suspect the author hoped this would be a major twist, unfortunately it was very obvious.
There were a couple of high points, such as the crash and when the car sinks into the lake with someone trapped inside, but they were pretty much it.
As to the mechanics of the tale. The author made many repeats of the same word(s) within the same sentence(s). This is something I find particularly annoying because basic editing will sort this issue out. For example:
“…in a few minutes, that will be frozen solid and you’ll be frozen along with it!” Matt looked down at the freezing liquid that now covered the ice.
Then there was the SHOUTING. Yes, lots of words and even whole sentences in capitals for emphasis. Ouch. Also a lot of dialogue was punctuated by … which is easy to over-use and the author slipped into this other bad habit quite readily.
Finally the overall writing style was clunky, it just didn’t flow well. For example:
Like he, himself, had been, Lisa was also suspended upside-down but, unlike him, she didn’t suddenly wake up.
Thin Ice just about crept over the two star line saved by the reasonable premise in the first half and a couple of heartbeat moments. But only JUST.
A small amount of adult language.
Several spelling, punctuation and layout errors.
Rating: ** Two Stars