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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Review: Primitive

Primitive is billed as a thriller by Mark Nykanen. When I saw that it listed global warming as a theme, I read it (it was one of the Amazon giveaways on the kindle) just to see whether a novelist could actually get climate change right.

The plot revolves around a model who gets kidnapped by an environmental commune for her participation in various consumerist ads. The model tries to escape, and her daughter tries to find her. Most thrillers are simple-minded black-and-white, good-and-evil affairs. This one surprised me. There are no heroes.

The environmental commune commits basic mistakes (including settling on poisoned land), the authorities that's try to chase them down also commits predictable mistakes (unfortunately, no twist there). About the only sympathetic character is Sonya, the kidnapped model, who unfortunately also got a predictable consciousness raising epiphany.

On the other hand, the science isn't all made up, which surprised me. The idea of methane under the arctic ice being a driver of climate swings is well-known. The characters are believable (and believably stupid).

I hesitate to recommend this, but if you do read it, at least the science isn't terribly far off, and the characters aren't as black and white as you would expect from a thriller.

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