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3.3 out of 5 stars24
3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 12 September 2011
I was a bit wary to read this book at first when I realised how young the girl was in the book. I do struggle with the Lolita scenario and that is probably due to being a mum. The book is told from the point of view of the young girl, whose name we never discover. Right from the start it is obvious that she is extremely attracted to her older travelling companion, Gunther, and is the one doing all the chasing. She does practically throw herself at Gunther, who resists for a period of time until he can resist no longer. As the book progresses, you become aware that he feels guilty about how their friendship developed into a sexual relationship. He has a conscience and is uncomfortable with how much older he is than her and struggles to see anything right in the developments. He is a wanderer who does not want to be tied down and seems to find her affection stifling after awhile. I never once viewed him as a dirty old man and found his conduct to be quite gentlemanly at times. He obviously cared for her and by the end he went out of his way to put her on the right road to a better future. He didn't want her to settle for someone like him. Yet she was in the throws of her first love and with that, obsession can take place. She cannot see any of his faults, to her he is the love of her life and one she will never forget. Her love for him is all consuming and leads her into dangerous situations.

I found this to be a thoughtful read which made me reminisce my own experience of first love. The book is beautifully written and comes from the heart. This young girl is opening up her emotions for everyone to read. At times the words were sad and poignant, as she suffers under the full weight of her feelings.

The road trip takes her on a coming of age journey. She began as an innocent young girl and ended it still young, but a lot wiser about love, relationships and sex. The road trip also took their relationship in full circle, as they moved back into the friendship mode as they neared the end. At times, the book was rather brutal and I found myself a little emotional. She really does suffer through lack of knowledge in this book.

If you are looking for a fast paced ride, then don't look here, as this book is a slow journey, where you watch both characters slowly evolve over a period of time and change in their situation.

My only niggles with this book were that throughout the road trip, there is no mention about how Gunther paid for all the hotels and restaurants along the way and I couldn't work out how he managed to pay for everything. Also we never find out the girl's name or where she came from. On both counts, it really is the author's choice, but I would have like a little bit more information.

If you like your coming of age fiction real and emotional, then you will enjoy this book. A quiet read with some painful scenes that will stay with you when you finish reading it.
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on 2 September 2011
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book when I read the description. It was a book I was compelled to read from start to finish. The Ice Age is one of those books you will either love or hate. One thing I didn't like was that you didn't ever find out the protagonist's name, but she was an interesting and loveable, if not very naive character.

The story is about a road trip, not sure how it started and we do not know anything prior to the road trip, other than few snip-its from the other characters in the book called Gunther's, past. So Gunther and a young almost eighteen year old go on a road trip. The stop at some hillbilly towns in America on their way to their destination. Sometimes staying with Gunther's friends sometimes in Motels. Gunther is a middle aged man and he and the girl get quite a few funny looks when on their travels. Not always is this father and daughter looks.

Everything is perfectly innocent, they are just friends, until the chemistry kicks in. Gunther knows it is wrong but the girl peruses it. Eventually Gunther puts a stop to their more than friendship relationship. But the girl is already head over heels for him. When Gunther goes off, she gets herself into some trouble with some teenage boys, this part I found very difficult to read. It wasn't too graphic but graphic enough.

I could not put this book down, nothing exciting or particularly interesting happened in the book, but I had to find out what happened next. Where they were going, who they going to meet, what was happening. It really was one of those I can't turn my head away scenario's.

The fact I am a mum I struggle with the Lolita scenario, although not a mum of a girl, I do have nieces, so I thought I would find this book hard to read. But it is done in a tasteful way and you can see how much these characters really do feel for each other, there is love there. The girl however is too young to really know what she wants.

I would have liked to have known her name, this annoyed me about the book. I would like to know how she came to be on a road trip so young and I would like to know happened next in New York. Also where Gunther got his money from. These are all questions I have unanswered.

I would recommend this as a light and compelling read. I warn you, once you pick it up you won't be able to stop. A perfect coming of age novel, which is charged with emotion and will stay with you. It is a good read and I am glad I read it.
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VINE VOICEon 7 May 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I really enjoyed this book. It was crisp and edgy, perfect for the characters who traverse the United States in a rather haphazzard road trip.

The story is told from the point of view of a feisty 17yr old (goodness, I don't think we are ever told her name!), who hitches a ride with blonde, much older, Gunther. He seems to be travelling randomly across the country with occasional visits to old friends as his only destinations. Together they drive, eat, and sleep, day upon day - and as they do, so their relationship develops. The sexual tension is palpable at times but he is very aware of the age difference and does his best to repect her innocence. She, meanwhile, is drawn to Gunther and is determined to lose her innocence to make herself more appealing.
The novel is entierly character driven but the characters were fascinating and the pages kept turning. There were no chapters, which normally annoys me, yet seemed totally appropriate here.

A brilliant read for older teens (be warned: There are some rather blatant sex scenes) and adults.
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VINE VOICEon 21 June 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book was a little different, the writing style above average with a modern voice. Being in the world of a fiery 17yr old who hitchhikes to Gunther, an older, wiser traveller who takes her to meet friends and who teaches her about life.

Inevitably, she falls in love and he is torn between attraction and being 'proper' - a character piece and nothing else, I can see this as a film (the kind where nothing really happens but you learn about human nature along the way).

Probably a brilliant book for older teens but a great read for adults alike.
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VINE VOICEon 2 June 2010
Quite an interesting exploration of a coming of age portrayal. We never do learn the girl's name or her back story. She gets picked up by Gunther, much older free spirit, whilst hitching rides. Gunther is not a bad person and tries in his way to do the right thing by her. She observes him minutely and becomes totally consumed by him in that way that sweeps you away when you are around 17 years old. Because he is older and worldly wise he becomes even more of a magnet to her, and he is clearly an interesting person with a quiet charisma about him. She begins to feel that she is too naive and inexperienced for one such as he, and sets out to rectify this with various passing youths who are all ultimately poor substitutes for her growing infatuation with Gunther. She is finally able with her growing sexual confidence, to make a pass at Gunther, he reciprocates and they experience something which is clearly special, but which he finds hard to reconcile with himself because of their age difference. We never do find out how old Gunther is either. It is a fairly short novel with no chapters, but this works quite well because it highlights the flow of the perpetual movement of their traversal backwards and forewards over vast tracts of the U.S.A. All the usual teenage angst of trying to work out another's actions is here, along with those feelings of being treated paradoxically as sometimes a child and sometimes older. THe fact that her fascination with Gunther leads her into a terrible experience is very sobering and adds a very dark side which underlines the brutality never lying far from the surface in this world.
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on 27 March 2013
This is the kind of book I imagine artsy types reading and debating its content. It is written by someone with real talent, it really is a well written book with interesting characters and plot. However it just depressed me, I hated the violence. I hated the way she was treated by others. I realise that was the point but I just didn't enjoy it. Life is too short to read such depressing books in my opinion.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It's a little hard not to be unkind about this novel. A coming-of-age story about a seventeen-year-old girl hooking up with a very much older man is asking for trouble. Especially when all they do is drift around America from diner to diner, motel room to motel room, gas station to gas station. Apart from the occasional interlude where the man peremptorily dumps her while he takes off for a few days in search of old girlfriends to shag that's pretty much it.

Along the way many questions for the reader go unanswered (for which, I suppose, we should be grateful because it makes the book shorter). Like, for example, why is he aimlessly driving around America? He's obviously got a bit of dough, has immaculate personal hygiene habits, so why is he choosing to stay in the seediest of motels or else rudely freeloading on old friends, conveniently dotted around remote parts of the country? If I had a young neophyte in tow I'd certainly be wanting to make a bit more of an effort. The biggest question, however, is why is this seemingly intelligent teenager putting up with a thoughtless, self-absorbed and misogynistic moron.

Every novel of this kind has to have a carefully-placed denouement, an incident of catharsis, so this has one too. In this case, however, it has precisely the opposite effect of what's intended by coming across as a breath of fresh air after all the repetitive claustrophobia of what's gone before. Fortunately, it also signals that we're getting near the end.

Kirsten Reed gets the extra star from me because in spite of everything I've said she's not really a bad writer; she just thinks her subject-matter's more worthy and interesting than it is. Curiously, there was recently another Vine offering also narrated by a teenage girl, the unforgivably-underrated Matilda Savitch Mathilda Savitch - a true masterpiece of modern fiction if ever there was one. If you've read the Ice Age or are even half-tempted by it from other reviews on here Matilda Savitch will instead show you how it's done.
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VINE VOICEon 26 April 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The nominal passenger of this tale dictates the pace and tells the story of their journey in a matter-of-fact voice coloured by her youth and her changing preconceptions. "The Ice Age" doesn't give much introduction to its main characters in terms of personal histories but starts with Gunther and his 17-year-old passenger already embarked on their meanderings. Gunther's past seeps out a little as he visits various old friends en route; the girl's remains sketchy. Gunther may be revisiting his youth, but the girl's interests lie in their ongoing present. Gunther is not the romantic vampire his passenger longs for him to be, and his hitchhiker is not the damsel in distress Gunther thinks she becomes soon after he has sex with her then tries to turn back from it. There are no dramatic upheavals at the loss of her virginity or her subsequent sexual experiences: this is a very modern girl growing, though unknowingly, into a strong woman. Gunther apparently experiences joy and guilt (and probably a few other assorted emotions) in his relationship with the girl, but filtered and muted through the girl's perceptions, you only get a sense of how much he might have felt through the extremity of his actions. Until then laconic, he tries more than once to escape what he can't cope with and leaves the girl searching almost blindly for answers.

Eventually, the girl takes over the driving wheel metaphorically and literally, and both she and Gunther have to let go of each other. At the end of their trip, she reaches New York, one feels, on the cusp of a whole lot of life ahead of her and finally looking forward as Gunther leaves her there to finish out the rest of his own and probably looking back.

"The Ice Age" does not appear to preach any message or try to plumb any emotional depths; it just tells the story of an innocent-wise teenager on a road trip with an older, cynical-wise man. Girl grows up on road trip, past catches up with man, both of them change and yet remain themselves. Maybe it's just a reflection on growing up and growing old. It isn't a story that has a resolution as such, and the ending is open. There's no huge, tormented break-up, no happy-ever-after wedding or even hook-up; the coach has reached its destination so the passenger's got out and the driver's driven off. Everyone gets on with their lives, the end.

Reed writes her teenage protagonist's character convincingly, portraying the angst and assurance born of adolescent naivete and hormones. She isn't necessarily sympathetic, but she is fascinating. There are enough echoes of anyone's and everyone's adolescence here. Maybe not everyone was this independent as a teenager, but the feelings of awkwardness (though that's minimal enough here), confusion, and being at the mercy of grown-ups will be familiar to anyone who was ever a teenager. This isn't my usual cup of tea, but it is well-written. I enjoyed reading it.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Ice Age is a short novel, narrated in first person by an unnamed young woman. She is drifting aimlessly across the United States, being chauffeured by a similarly aimless man called Gunther. Gunther has no job, no visible means of support, and has an endless network of friends across the country to call in and visit.

Kirsten Reed clearly wants to explore the relationship between Gunther - an older man with the car and the money - and the unnamed narrator who is much younger and depends upon Gunther for everything. There are halfhearted attempts to explore the narrator's feeling of powerlessness and how this is transformed into an unrequited love. Unfortunately, as soon as an idea comes along, it is usurped by more banal details of seedy motels or grim sofas in grim units. There's no real development and no real depth. Add this to a novel which has no real beginning, no plot and no particularly tangible ending and you have a rather forgettable work. Other writers have done drifting somewhat better; other writers have done the Lolita thing better (Nabakov, for example). Sadly this is just a me-too novel(la) that doesn't offend but doesn't add anything either. Like some of the narrator's experiences, this is quick and unsatisfying.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Books like these live or die according to the quality of the writing. Very little happens here, there is one random encounter after another with little progression of the narrative. You know there is never going to be any sort of conclusion to the story so you read books like these simply to enjoy the writing.

Reed is a young writer but man has she got her head screwed on right. Her writing is powerful, observational and spot on. Reading her words is just a pleasure, pure and simple. You are quite happy to go along for the ride in this book, knowing there will not be any neat endings.

The main character is a young woman and she is great fun, suitably pessimistic and constantly getting annoyed at all the 'oldies' around here who hover around Gunther, the maybe vampire old man she hangs around with and has a burning, almost unrecquited crush on.

I recommend this book purely for its hearty, solid and entertaining writing.
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