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I read this book for one of my book clubs but it’s also on the 1001 books to read before you die list. It also fits as the book ‘originally written in another language’ part of the 2015 book challenge. So it fits many boxes.

For all that it wasn’t a book for me. I had two issues with it that were no fault of the author. Firstly geographical rivalries. I know about UK rivalries as it’s my home. America is such a well know country the media often shows us issues with other countries. But Greenland versus Denmark? I hadn’t a clue there was such hostility. So if I got nothing else from this book I at least have a greater understanding of Scandinavian politics. I also had to Google where Greenland actually was simply because Smilla, the narrators kept calling Danes ‘Europeans’ and I had assumed Greenland was also European. Wiki’s response just confused me even further.

As well as being embarrassed by my lack of geographical knowledge this book contains a lot of science which again I’m useless as and find quite boring. As it’s on the 1001 list these issues are mine alone and not everyone can like every recommended book. But even during the big reveal at the end as to what the murder(s) were all about I found I didn’t know enough about science to be shocked or care so the story then ended up as a bit of a damp squib.

I had big problems with Smilla, the lead character. I understand the need to find out the truth of a young boys death. I understand depression which she suffered from. But I couldn’t understand why she would follow the murder enquiry (bearing in mind she is a civilian not a detective) all the way to boarding a 40k tonne ship full of people known to criminals or who have already threatened to kill her. There’s no running away on such a ship especially in the Arctic Ocean.

Despite all that once I got past the first few chapters I did find I needed to finish it – especially as the young boy’s death seemed to disappear for about 200 pages and I wanted to know how everything would tie in. Most of the characters seemed to be deliberately vague. I just can’t decide if I liked it or not but I certainly didn’t hate it. So in terms of scoring I think I’ll go with the middle ground. Maybe if I go read it a second time further down the line a lot more will make sense.

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