Cold People

Tom Rob Smith

Science Fiction Dystopia

The world has fallen. Without warning, a mysterious and omnipotent force has claimed the planet for their own. There are no negotiations, no demands, no reasons given for their actions. All they have is a message: humanity has thirty days to reach the one place on Earth where they will be allowed to exist…Antarctica.

Cold People follows the perilous journeys of a handful of those who endure the frantic exodus to the most extreme environment on the planet. But their goal is not merely to survive the present. Because as they cling to life on the ice, the remnants of their past swept away, they must also confront the urgent challenge: can they change and evolve rapidly enough to ensure humanity’s future? Can they build a new society in the sub-zero cold?

Original and imaginative, as profoundly intimate as it is grand in scope, is a masterful and unforgettable epic.

-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.

Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.

My Opinion

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) An alien population claims earth as their own and without negotiation, informs humans they need to get to Antarctica if they want to survive. If they make it there in time, the aliens won’t interfere.

Wait, what? That synopsis is phenomenal! I’m a sucker for a dystopia and this had all the elements I love; survival, unique community and multiple challenges. Those that made it to Antarctica are then faced with survival, and how to survive. While there were few people previously living in Antarctica, there was a research facility. So what do the humans do? Focus on repopulation and genetic modification.

“You’re nervous to admit that we’ve created a superior race. But the whole purpose of the Cold People project was to create a superior race. Because we’re dying. And that is exactly what we’ve done.”

This book had a strange dichotomy of things I loved and hated. First off, the writing. Not my fav. It’s third person which led to a lot of disconnect. It had a very matter-of-fact way to it that was dry and impersonal, making me feel no connection to the characters. Second, the subject matter. Full of many stories going on and wholly interesting. It was intriguing enough to hold my attention, even with the writing. Go figure. I found myself torn between loving this book and hating it. I was amazed multiple times that I was entertained but I really wished I could have connected with the writing more.

I would have loved a POV from people that didn’t make it to Antarctica, or the people who were not selected. These would be purely for my enjoyment! There were a few aspects that didn’t resonate with me such as how they lived without paper and computers and a lot of basic material we use on an every day basis. Communication was reduced to mostly walking to another person. And yet they had more than enough supplies to do genetic modifications and house those experiments? It did explain a lot away but not enough for my curiosity. This is the stuff I love and those survival skills are what are so interesting. The new society with few rules was fascinating, I could have read an entire book just on that aspect. I also would have loved more about the aliens! We didn’t get nearly enough of that. However, after reading that ending, I feel what I got was better.

“The truth was that after twenty years of peace people had neglected the art of war, they had allowed the stash of weapons to be depleted and repurposed.”

This book was definitely longer than it needed to be. I needed a bit more “he said, she said” because some of those conversations were long enough to get lost in which character was speaking. But I enjoyed this book and the originality of it. Wholly unique and exciting. That ending was one of my favorites!

“This continent changed people. Smart, stable, decent people lost their minds, and no evaluation could predict who’d snap next.”

“In Antarctica there is a gap between the way you perceive the world and the way the world really is.”

“But surviving at any cost is not surviving. Surviving means holding on to what is great about people.”

“Some countries didn’t bring any older people. Some countries didn’t bring young children. Some didn’t bring women who couldn’t have children. Some countries refused to bring anyone with mental health issues. Some of the most interesting people in the world have mental health issues, I include myself in that. We lost a huge part of our humanity, not just in terms of numbers, but width and range. However, it finds a way back. The odd people, the misfits, the people who didn’t belong, they’re here now. You can’t get rid of them, even if you try. My point is this—you’ve never had a love story of your own. It was stolen from you. First by your parents. Then by the alien occupation.”

“I am going to do things you will find unacceptable. In my view, the only thing that would be unacceptable is failure. And we, as a species, are on the brink of failure. Or, as it is also called, extinction.”

“Cold People project had occurred when it was clear that the moderate ice-adapted people couldn’t reverse the precipitous population decline—they could prolong the era of people, but they couldn’t save us.”

“the justice system had been replaced with a blend of libertarianism and authoritarianism. Almost everyone was given a second chance and almost no one was given a third.”

General content summary: some language, many seal are killed and their oil used, seals close to extinction, reference to some playfully killing/torturing the seals so the seals jumped off a cliff where most died, previous earthquake and tsunami (some destruction details), a woman is hit by a car, a man steps off a building (suicide), explosions and fighting in the street, m/f kiss (multiple), car accident (injuries, some details), poison and strangling death (some details), many drownings (cries heard), multiple ship wrecks/sinking (few details), many die from exposure or cold (few details), many people vanish/killed in the blink of an eye (few details), multiple baby deaths (no details), many children orphaned/many die from the cold, foster care, young woman naked (no details), reference to menstruation, smoking a sedating drug, plane crash (people killed, no details), m/m attraction 9multiple), embryo genetic experimentation (multiple, many that carried the babies died, some not very human babies), many corpses seen of people who froze, previous experimentation on embryos (some brought to full term, few details, deaths), experimentation on adults (few details, some deaths), experiments on animals, experiments on people using animal genes (insect and more), pipe/smoking (few), suicide is common (jumping off cliffs, exposure, few details), killing of a seal (some details, blood), previous sniper shooting and gun fight, gunshot (intense moments and many weapons), autopsies on stillborn infants (no details), attack/physical violence (broken spine, dogs eating human flesh, gunshots, limb torn off, head torn off, blood), story of killing dogs for food, animals have attacked humans (blood), beheading, death (fighting with hands).

Thank you to Scribner and NetGalley for the gifted copies!

The book releases February 7, 2023.

**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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