Book Review: “Dark Matter”

Author : Michelle Paver

Publisher : Orion Books

According to the Observer newspaper, this book will have you too afraid to look out of the window.  Nope!  Not me!  And I say that reviewer is a wimp!  OK, so it didn’t frighten me to death but it was a brilliant read, and, I found the story so gripping that I read it in one day.

Set in 1937, we meet Jack Miller, a bored export clerk at a local stationers, aged 28 and looking for adventure.  He goes to meet four other men of similar age in a pub to talk about joining them on a research expedition to the Arctic as their wireless operator.  On his way home Jack has second thoughts, and he pauses by the Thames and sees a body being pulled out of the river.  Later that weekend, when he’s thinking about his journey to work the next day, he looks at the smallness of his flat and examines the few pennies he has in his pocket which is to last until payday and changes his mind, deciding that he will go and do something that has meaning.

With all the equipment purchased and their passages booked everything seems fine until one of the travellers drops out.  The remaining four go to the Arctic but one of them has an accident on board ship and only the remaining three make the journey to their ice-covered world.  Then strange things begin to happen, and Jack is left by himself at the research station during the long Arctic winter of endless dark.

Told through the means of Jack’s journal – which I think is very old hat – the story is an excellent portrayal of the effect of isolation on the human psyche.  Jack tries to maintain normality but as he makes increasingly ill-judged decisions, the emptiness of his dark world gradually closes in on him until …  I found the ending a bit of a surprise.  Although the story isn’t frightening, there is a very interesting twist.  A really good read.

Angela Wren

Actor and Director with Doncaster Little Theatre and gradually working my way up to the title of Bookworm!  Angela has appeared on ‘Book It!’ many times, both as a reviewer, and as a writer.

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