Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book Review: Freeze/Thaw by Chris Bucholz

I enjoyed Severance by Chris Bucholz so much last year, possibly one of my favorite books and definitely one of the top science fiction novels, a great generation ship mystery with plenty of humor and action. I jumped at the chance to get an advanced review copy of Freeze/Thaw, the next novel by this hilarious science fiction writer. Bucholz is a writer for cracked.com and while Severance has a lot of great humor, the author's sense of humor is on full display in Freeze/Thaw. Not only is this funny but it is also good science fiction, action-packed and a whole lot of fun to read.

I honestly had a hard time putting it down because the plot is so fast paced and interesting plus the first person narration is so enjoyable. The story is told by Gabe Alfil, a man paralyzed from the neck down by an awful hiking accident. Despite his injury, Gabe is still sarcastic and has a great sense of humor. On top of that, he used his time while immobile to learn a lot about quantum computing, which makes him useful to the military and gives him special privileges. I'm not sure I'll read a more amusing character in science fiction this year. 

Gabe gets outfitted with an advanced exo-skeleton so that he can use his knowledge to save the world that has frozen over when a satellite that was meant to save the world went horribly wrong. There is a lot going on there but the explanation doesn't overload the reader and there is a great balance of exposition and plot. Gabe teams up with a military patrol group to travel across the dangerous iced over region of America.

The military patrol is full of great characters from the foul-mouthed leader Ziggy to the tough gunner Kat. None of these characters like Gabe very much, and the conflict is a source of lots of humor and tension. The plot slows a bit as the patrol gets out on the ice but I was already hooked, and when the action gets going it doesn't slow down for long. Bucholz does a great job laying out scenes and I found all of the intense fights against scavengers and eco-terrorists well written but also retaining a lot of humor. No problem is solved easily and there are some great twists and turns throughout.

Freeze/Thaw is a great follow up novel to Severance and I can't recommend both these books enough to any reader of science fiction. Bucholz has nailed a balance of making a book funny, full of action, and a vivid world. The post-apocalyptic environment felt real and I was flipping through pages wanting to find out more. Great characters, fun plot, and plenty of laughs, this a book to check out this May!

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