James Field's Pink Water is a bold attempt at a science fiction thriller that rattles along at a nice pace, while misfiring along the way. The great ideas, action and detail are hampered by some hokey dialogue and an uneven tone.
The set-up is great--a diverse bunch of people, all struggling to get along aboard a cramped icebreaker, set off towards the Antarctic to investigate an alien phenomenon. It had the feel of an 80s action adventure film, where you're not sure who's going to make it to the end--that's if they don't all kill each other before they even get to the end. The ship and equipment is realistically described, and I especially liked the scene where an elderly scientist ropes in a young lad to help him dip test tubes off the side of the boat to collect water samples. The scientific process is convincing throughout the book.
The book falls down though with its characters. The names are very twee--Dennis and Margery, Trevor and Russell, Timmy and Horace--and the dialogue is all, 'now then,' 'don't you know,' 'ninny' and 'nincompoop.' Most of the characters have repetitive catchphrases that gets annoying after a while. I think the book could benefit from being retooled as an adult thriller, with maybe less-genial characters! As it stands, the occasional use of adult language is just jarring.
And while the plot is nicely structured, with lots of subplots and a double-whammy finale of an intriguing encounter with a mysterious being, followed by an alien dust-up, the book is still missing some strong female characters and a strong bad guy. So, all-in-all, a mixed bag.