Thirst is a competent thriller that ticks all the boxes but is somehow lacking in that page-turning vibe that keeps you shackled to its story.

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The story is made interesting because it’s an environmental thriller, so deals with current, very relevant issues. The ending also gets my marks for being original.

Its narrative stays mainly in Antarctica, where a group of scientists stumble on a set of Chinese aggressors who plan to mine a glacier for water. The scientists are in the way of the plan and are murdered. Or at least the aggressors think so. Glaciologist Luke Searle and research station head Maddy escape the fire meant to kill them. They set out across the ice into deadly and freezing conditions — they must find shelter or die.

Their attackers are still on their trail and capture Maddy, who learns that mining the glacier for ice is only the start of the Chinese plans. What is ultimately intended could destroy the world’s climate irreparably. Luke must rescue Maddy and save the world, before the terrible plan can be put into action, which will result in sea level increases high enough to drown cities.

I loved the descriptions in this book of the ice and the abandoned stations the protagonists slept in. I also really enjoyed the hero, Luke, who was the kind of tall, strong, male character I love. But I almost received no vibe from Maddy, much preferring how Larkin presented a peripheral character back in Sydney.

There were also points in the novel where I felt the characters’ motivations for their actions were dubious. For example, the villain’s reasons for keeping Maddy alive are not believable. There’s one point where she overhears the whole extent the dastardly plan and the villain thinks “it was time to get rid of her”, yet he doesn’t. If he’d really made that decision, he should and would in my opinion have done it immediately.

I also find it hard to believe that a Russian who helps Luke would have done so from the good of his heart. It was a mission that could have ended in his death and I just didn’t feel that the tie between Luke and the Russian was strong enough to warrant the help.

And although I know the author is fully aware of how dangerous Antarctica can be if you don’t have appropriate equipment or shelter, I don’t think she drove the point home quite far enough. We don’t really feel the cold in our own bones as they’re fighting for their life, or appreciate the characters’ fear of being a small human that doesn’t mean a thing to the cold and cruel face of nature. Perhaps this is because Luke feels at home in Antarctica. But we as the reader need to be afraid for him. I wasn’t.

Still, it was a rollicking, entertaining yarn. I’m going to give the book a 3/5.

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