I was lucky enough to request and be approved to read an early copy of this from the publishers on netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own
Melt by Ele Fountain, cover art by unknown, published by Pushkin
This isn’t actually out til April, but hit that pre-order button as it’s one you won’t want to miss!
I always enjoy Ele’s books (you can read my reviews of Boy 87 and Lost here and here.) I’m always impressed with her ability to pack so much into such relatively short adventures (surely she’s got to do Barrington Stoke at some point??)
Quick reads they may be but the characters have depth, the settings are immersive and the plots are full of tension and heart-stopping moments. Melt was no exception.
And like her other books, there’s an environmental awareness and a touch of social commentary running through it, as we come face to face with eroded traditions and dying ways of life, melting ice caps and vanishing animals, and unscrupulous companies with greed at their heart.
As ever though, these are brilliantly threaded through the story – they enhance and give roots to the adventure rather than eclipsing it. As do the themes of friendship, family and learning from other times, places and people that we see explored too.
Set in the Arctic Circle and told from the dual narratives of Bea and Yutu, who find themselves unexpectedly thrown together to brave both elements and enemies, this is a thrilling story of survival.
Yutu lives with his grandma in a remote Arctic village. He’s desperate to follow in family tradition and hunt so sneaks away one weekend to prove himself capable. But the ice has been melting faster than he knew and with a sudden blizzard on the way, he finds himself in trouble…
Bea meanwhile lives in a busy town but has few friends thanks to always being on the move with her dad’s job. She joins her dad, who is a geologist for a big oil company, on a work trip to the area near Yutu’s home but when they arrive things are not quite what they seem and danger is waiting…
And so Bea and Yutu find themselves helping each other, on the run in perilous conditions.
I loved the way Bea and Yutu helped each other, learned from each other, gave each other confidence and courage and ultimately, of course, became friends. But I think Yutu’s grandmother, Miki, was my favourite character. And on both sides, it was nice to see present, supportive adults around.
The Arctic setting is stunningly portrayed, it is beautiful but equally unforgiving and the cold settled into my bones as I read. It was the perfect setting for this tense, fast-paced and thought-provoking thriller.