SPIRE by Fiona Snyckers

SPIRE by Fiona SnyckersSpire by Fiona Snyckers
Published by Clockwork Books on March 25th 2017
Genres: Politics
Format: Ebook
Source: NetGalley

A container of viruses - mutated and cryogenically frozen - is brought under heavy guard to SPIRE, a remote research station in Antarctica. Within days, people are dying of diseases that haven't been seen since the middle ages.

Surgeon and virologist, Dr Caroline Burchell, struggles to contain the outbreak as a vicious polar storm lashes the base. The weather prevents any help from getting through to the loneliest outpost on earth.

Soon Caroline discover that the only thing worse than being alone in this desolate place is not being alone.

This compulsive thriller with its compassionate and resourceful heroine will keep you turning pages late into the night. Spire is a sequel to Fiona Snyckers' suspense novel Now Following You, which was long-listed for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize.

SPIRE by Fiona Snyckers is without a doubt the worst book I have read this year. I hear Homer Simpson in the back of my head saying “so far” but I think this one has the legs to take on any contenders.

The main character, Dr Caroline Mary-Sue, is a surgeon/virologist/genius who goes to Antarctica to work at the ridiculously named South Pole International Research Establishment. She is separated from her know-it-all daughter and her co-habitant male companion, but fortunately they are only a quick skype call away.

Shortly after she arrives, people start falling sick, with a diverse array of infectious diseases to which our erstwhile hero is conveniently all immune. She is left, seemingly alone, in a facility filled with dead bodies, and is forced to survive because the research foundation is a bunch of uncaring arseholes who think she is the murderer and don’t want to send a rescue for her.

Naturally she insists that she is innocent, and must set about working through back channels to survive, and uncover the real culprit behind the murders of her colleagues. Everyone from the establishment to INTERPOL seems prepared to let her just starve, freeze and die in the next 8-9 months.

That’s the premise out of the way, let’s talk about the politics of this book.

In the opening pages there is a discussion of “light skin privilege”, and this trend of feminist ideology continues throughout the novel. I don’t think this book could have been any more feminist if it tried, with a brilliant, misunderstood woman fighting against an uncaring patriarchy, and its legion of incompetent predominantly male minions. This hits all the hot button topics from Islamophobia and racial profiling, to general dismissal of our heroine’s brilliance. Fortunately, there are also a few allies to help her along the way.

This book is trying way too hard to be a sort of Flashdance/Alien crossover, and its premise of one girl against the world quickly grows old. Dr Mary-Sue is an unsympathetic know it all who can basically do everything. There were times when she was called on to do some scientific mumbo-jumbo – which I didn’t really understand, but thought it would have been outside of her field of expertise – that was just sort of handwaved.

Okay, her name isn’t really Dr Mary-Sue.

Despite being stuck in Antarctica, she also seems to have extremely convenient constant access to the internet, although she mostly uses it for skyping and … WebMD (basically). I live in a major city and my internet isn’t that great, yet this seems to be no barrier to her.

The “bad guy” is basically an autistic guy who sits in a closet and watches her on closed circuit television. I say “bad guy” for lack of a better term, since everyone in the entire world besides her immediate family, and a few close internet friends, are basically servants of the patriarchy and are therefore “bad guys”. At one point Dr Mary-Sue says that at least her academic colleagues recognise the brilliance of her research while the establishment are just prepared to let her die in a freezing hell. Very eye roll worthy.

This is what happens when authors try to write techno-thrillers full of empowering feminist messages. It’s tedious, it feels incredibly inauthentic, and a lot of the action and events feel entirely cartoonish.

The only reason I stuck with the book – apart from my own masochism – was to see how badly it would all end, and needless to say the author didn’t let me down. This was an awful read from the first page to the last, and lacks any kind of momentum. Whatever pitfalls the main character encounters you already know are going to be overcome through some deus ex machina, or klutzy awesomeness.

The blurb of the book sounded interesting enough, which is why I picked it up in the first place. And if the author had taken that promise and run with it, developed proper freaking tension, and given the main character some legitimate challenges to overcome, and not just insta-win buttons for everything, this might have been a readable book.

At least it was short.

I received a review copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating Report
Overall: one-star

Similar Posts
Violated by Carolyn Arnold
Violated purports itself to be a police procedural/thriller novel, but quite frankly is a weird love triangle dressed in sheep’s...
Origin by Dan Brown
Dan Brown is definitely an author I love to hate. But for some reason with each book he releases, I...
The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy
I finished The Dark Net a few days ago, and held off writing a review to allow myself to stew...

There are no comments yet, add one below.

Leave a Reply

Name (required)

Email (required)