If you haven't read The White Darkness yet, and don't want to know what happens, skip this post.
I honestly don't have much to say about it beyond saying it was gripping, terrifying, but not really believable. With each step of Victor's plan, I kept thinking, really? He's really pulling all of this off? But once I let go of that factor, I gave in to the awful breakneck speed of the events and could hardly read fast enough, not so much to find out what happened, but to get it over with. The vastness of all of that endless snow and ice in Antarctica managed to feel totally wide open and endless, yet completely claustrophobic. I found myself not caring who died, or what they found or didn't find, but only caring that the book would end and I could get out of all that awful snow. So, good on McCaughrean for creating such a vivid and frightening setting.
At first, having not read the flap copy or even any reviews of the book, I had no idea what would really happen. I was certain there was something unseemly about Victor, but I really thought he was maybe molesting Sym or something. He came off as creepy right from the start, to me. With Victor taking Sym away from her mother to a hotel clearly set up for just the two of them, with Sym's need to clutch so tightly to Captain Oates when she needs to "get away", and with her poem on pages 90 and 91 where she says, "secrets hidden are all/forbidden," I just thought that was where it was going. When it quickly became obvious that Victor was totally insane, cruel, awful, etc, I found myself getting so frustrated with Symone. She never seemed as "slow" or "dumb" (for lack of a much better word) as she sometimes claimed to be, or was made out to be. So for her to repeatedly get swept up in Victor's plans, to continue to think of Victor as brave and herself as gutless and spineless, was so frustrating. Victor turned out to be such a monster; I was really gunning for Symone to brain him with that ice pick!
That's just lots of random rambling. I don't have anything especially critical to say about the book. I'm not even sure I could say that I liked it. It was certainly compelling and unusual. I'm interested to know what others thought.