Science fiction readers should note that The Evil Is In the Ice is not truly a science fiction novel. Science fiction looks at science and technology and addresses the implications of humanity’s relationship with science. The “science” in this novel is inconsequential to the plot and barely addressed, and when science is discussed facts are thrown out the window. And that is fine for speculative fiction in general, but not for science fiction in particular.
The basic premise of the plot: a team of scientist uncover perfectly preserved bodies buried deep beneath the surface in Siberia. For some reason completely hand-waved over with two sentences, Russia allows this major find to be taken to the United States for study. The bodies are animated by demons hellbent on destruction and a zombie apocalypse begins.
But before we call this a survival horror, zombie lovers should know that almost all of the action takes place off-screen. When we do see the zombies attack someone, it is a rather bland, PG-rated presentation that barely registers with the reader. Most of the focus of the plot is on the scientists who are studying the zombies and trying to control the outbreak.
But we can’t call this a medical thriller, either. There is no palpable sense of urgency despite the nature of the plot. Almost all of the characters move through the story with a completely inappropriate level of…perkiness. Demonic zombies are spreading chaos around the world, and the scientists involved are all strangely disconnected from the horror this should be showing. And when they do show any emotion, it is incredibly sanitized to the point of absurdity. It is like an overzealous censor got hold of the story and struck out anything that might have possibly been construed by someone as potentially sort-of offensive.
I suppose this might be best categorized as Christian fiction, as there is a heavy Christian bias that factors heavily into the plot and the characters’ actions that at times comes across as preachy. The scientists learn how to fight the demon-tainted zombies not through science, but through the Divine Inspiration and the support of a mystical descendant of the Axosyz, a never-fully explained group with special powers to combat evil.
To be fair, this is a perfectly acceptable Christian fiction novel, and if I was a fan of that genre I would probably have enjoyed the book. And if I was going to rate it as a Christian fiction, I would probably give it a higher rating. But this book was presented to me as science fiction, which it is not. And I don’t like bait-and-switch tactics. And neither do a lot of readers.