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The Country of Ice Cream Star Hardcover – February 10, 2015
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“What an astonishing achievement… I can’t remember when I last read something so original or sophisticated or emotionally engaging or so breathtakingly ambitious.” (Kate Atkinson, author of Life After Life)
“A richly detailed dystopian epic… This suspenseful, provocative tale is The Hunger Games meets Lord of the Flies and The Walking Dead, only much, much better.” (Booklist (starred review))
“This literary dystopia inhabits a fully imagined, remarkably inventive universe with its own bizarre rituals and language.” (Library Journal)
Newman’s novel is ambitious, taking on race, sex, class, religion, politics, and war all at once. What sets the work apart is its unapologetic narrator, whose fantastically unbridled, wholly teenage point of view renders each page a pleasure to read.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“This literary dystopia inhabits a fully imagined, remarkably inventive universe with its own bizarre rituals and language... the patient reader will be intrigued by the poetic prose and captivated by the exploits of Ice Cream Star.” (Library Journal)
“Newman’s story is inventive, her characters memorable… Praiseworthy for its solid efforts at worldbuilding…” (Kirkus Reviews)
“A treat, full of supple metaphors and rhythmic lyricism… This is an obvious candidate for Hunger Games-hungry Hollywood to pluck out the linguistic heart that makes it special. Take a look before that happens.” (Daily Telegraph (London))
“Stylish and accomplished” (The Independent on Sunday)
“What sets [this book] apart from its rivals is the extraordinary, blistering insistence of its language...As the momentum builds... raw, addictive lyricism develops...By the last page I was emotionally battered but euphoric: the book had held me so effectively hostage that I felt I had Stockholm syndrome.” (The Guardian)
“As inventive as it is captivating” (Independent)
“Entertains with its relentless energy and wild inventiveness” (The Times (London))
“A brave new/old world that delivers on multiple levels, especially Ice Cream Star’s alluring language” (The Observer)
“An extraordinary dystopian novel, fizzing with energy and linguistic inventiveness” (Scotsman)
“Eighty years in the future, a plague kills everyone 20 and older. Now the world is run by children who must do the impossible: find a cure, stay alive, and (as far as we’re concerned) reanimate the dystopia genre.” (O, the Oprah Magazine, Ten Titles to Pick Up Now)
“Newman’s story is inventive, her characters memorable… Praiseworthy for its solid efforts at worldbuilding…” (Speakeasy, Wall Street Journal)
“Probably the Next Divergent… The unique dialogue (there’s no adults to teach them proper English, after all) and quick pacing make it an engrossing, thrilling read.” (Self)
“A dystopian thriller set in the aftermath of a plague that kills those over the age of 20. When 15-year-old Ice Cream Star’s brother begins to show symptoms of the disease, she embarks on a dangerous journey for the rumored cure.” (Buzzfeed, 27 Of The Most Exciting New Books Of 2015)
“Sandra Newman’s novel The Country of Ice Cream Starmakes the Hunger Games seem wimpy.” (Wall Street Journal, Speakeasy)
“[W]hat makes the novel so fascinating - and, yes, so challenging - is the language Newman has created for Ice Cream and the way we see this disease-ravaged world through her eyes.” (Washington Post)
“It’s a remarkable creation, an approximation of an English whose evolution failed to be nurtured past adolescence and then ossified with new rules and structure in place.” (The Onion, A.V. Club)
“[H]aunting and heartbreaking...this is an epic about love and hope that will inspire--and probably be screening at a movie theater near you in the next few years.” (VanityFair.com)
“A bold, linguistically adventurous dystopia... historically and politically compelling in its view of a future haunted by disease and death. Yet Newman manages to imbue her heroine with a hope and resiliency that will surpass the ravages of a woebegone time. (Shelf Awareness)
“The voice Newman has created is bold and lyrical and, better still, complete - belonging to her pulp universe alone... I have almost never seen an equal to the beauty she finds in words...I hear more Shakespeare in Ice Cream’s cadence than I do anything else.” (NPR)
There’s so much compacted into [Ice Cream Star] that narrowing it down to just one element is impossible. Yet in any description of the book, one thing must be made clear: that Ice Cream Star, despite its post-apocalyptic setting, is not your typical dystopia. It’s so, so much scarier.” (Bustle.com)
“The Country of Ice Cream Star is a bold, ballsy, ambitious novel that will get you thinking (and talking) differently about literature and the world.” (Tweed's)
“[An] incredibly ambitious linguistic undertaking, yet Newman manages to maintain the consistency of this dialect over the novel’s nearly 600 pages. Even more impressively, after only a few pages the language begins to seem natural and... reveals its potential to be intensely lyrical and expressive.” (Harvard Crimson)
“The Country of Ice Cream Star is in many ways a classic story, craftily refold and made contemporary…The Country of Ice Cream Star builds towards a powerful, horrifying, and beautifully-written climax, one that’s epic in scope but also feels intensely personal.” (New York Times Book Review)
“[The Country of Ice Cream Star] weaves geography, race, gender, sexuality, and religion into a gripping narrative... the complexity of the story and the larger questions it raises about the inherently violent and self-serving nature of mankind linger long after the final page.” (Bust Magazine)
“The Country of Ice Cream Star is fresh, dark, and wholly unpredictable at every turn. Let the film rights’ bidding war begin.” (Daily Beast)
“This remains one of the most beautiful books I have read this year - the one I champion everywhere.” (NPR, Best Books of 2015)
“Written in a post-apocalyptic patois, Newman’s... haunting story ‘makes us confront the undeniable fact that the citizens of the future will be forced to repeat the history we’re making today,’ Andrew Ervin said here.” (New York Times Book Review, Paperback Row)
“This heartfelt, compelling tale of a post-apocalyptic world populated by young people is challenging to get through--partly because of the unusual hybrid language used throughout--but readers who persevere will be richly rewarded.” (Washington Independent Review of Books, 13 Best Books of the Year)
“Newman’s richly imagined future world is inhabited almost entirely by African American children and teens who are immune to a deadly virus--and whose complex, slang-evolved patois makes this sweeping epic both fascinating and challenging to read.” (Washington Post, Notable Fiction Books of 2015)
“A little like Hanya Yanigihara’s A Little Life, this is a big book that, while not always an easy read, immerses you in its world in a way that’s not easily forgotten.” (Slate, The Overlooked Books of 2015)
“The post-apocalyptic trend is going strong, and Country of Ice Cream Star is one of the most original spins on the disaster-obsessed subgenre.” (Minnesota Public Radio, MPR News, Top Fiction Picks of 2015)
“When Newman’s novel hit shelves earlier this year it seemed destined to dominate the conversation due to her masterful work capturing the titular character’s unique voice... If you’re looking for a dystopian SF novel unlike anything else, this is the one.” (Barnes & Noble, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, 7 Unjustly Overlooked 2015 SF/F Books)
“In this haunting novel’s postapocalyptic world, a plague kills everyone before they reach age 20. Fifteen-year-old Ice Cream Star sets out to change that.” (People, New in Paperback)
From the Back Cover
In the ruins of a future America, fifteen-year-old Ice Cream Star and her nomadic tribe live off the detritus of a fallen civilization. Theirs is a world of children; before reaching the age of twenty, they all die of a disease they call Posies—a plague that has killed for generations.
When her brother begins showing signs of the disease, Ice Cream Star sets off to find a cure. Led by a captured prisoner who becomes her devoted protector and friend, she travels hundreds of miles across treacherous territory, fighting to protect the only world she has ever known.
Written in a lyrical, inventive patois, The Country of Ice Cream Star is a postapocalyptic literary epic as imaginative as The Passage and as ambitious as Cloud Atlas. This is a breathtaking work from a writer of rare and unconventional talent.
“Builds towards a powerful, horrifying, and beautifully written climax, one that’s epic in scope but also feels intensely personal.” —New York Times Book Review
“Blends elements of American history, popular culture, and political allegory with romance and thriller pacing. This suspenseful, provocative tale is The Hunger Games meets Lord of the Flies and The Walking Dead, only much, much better.” —Booklist
“Ice Cream’s language is as potent and earthy as Chaucerian vernacular. . . . One begins to think in this dialect; it is as sweet and addictive as Ice Cream herself.” —Globe and Mail (Toronto)
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Top customer reviews
The Country of Ice Cream Star is a pretty hefty novel to dissect... It takes place in a future, dystopic America. The majority of the characters are under the age of 18, because generally around that time a plague like disease strikes them and they die. The main protagonist is 15 yr old Ice Cream Star. If you're already put off because this is starting to sound like one out a million YA dystopian novels, then stop, because this is nothing like that. Some people may be squeamish about underage sex, war, murder, etc., but this has been their life for as long as they've known-and when living to 20 is considered a long life...well... Nothing felt gratuitous to me-just plainly spoken in Ice Cream's matter of fact voice. Which brings me to the next point, and which seems to be the reason for so many low reviews of this book. The dialect. About 99% of the book is written in an invented patois. It's like a Babel of mish mash language-which admittedly does take some getting used to, but if you can hang in there then it will eventually become much easier to understand. I think Sandra Newman could have reached a wider audience without this vernacular, but for me the book would have been much more ordinary. I grew to like it. And Ice Cream Star is an amazing character. I loved her. Her naïveté is just right for the unknown things she encounters. But she's not a stupid character. She doesn't change into a completely different character all of a sudden. She's genuinely a good, brave, kind person. She's tough and funny and resourceful. You're not sitting there screaming at the protagonist in your head that they're missing something that's right in front of their face. I hate when some character that's supposedly going to save the world can't figure out the obvious. Ice Cream isn't perfect, but the things she didn't see coming-I didn't either.
A lot goes on in this book, and then it ends rather adbruptly. I got to 97% on my Kindle and was thinking, um, I'm missing some pages...but thankfully Sandra Newman is working on a sequel.
So summing things up, there are different bands of children living near each other in the Massachusetts woods. Russian soldiers are roaming around kidnapping children from the different tribes. Ice Cream's older brother gets sick. They end up catching a Russian soldier, teaching him their language and befriending him. They learn that other soldiers are on their way and they're not nice. They decide to move farther North. They get waylaid and end up in New York by another group. Ice Cream learns Russian soldiers are going to be in Quantico and that they have a cure for the disease that's killing her brother and eventually everyone else. Several groups band together to fight these Russians. That's the dumbed down synopsis.
So, yeah. There's a lot people could nit pick this book over. Race, religion, class, white privilege, blah, blah-but sometimes it's ok to just enjoy a fictional book. I loved this novel and I really hope the sequel isn't years away.
In this dystopian novel, an illness has caused people to die by the ages of 18 or 20. The world, therefore, is run by children. The story is told by Ice Cream Star, and she introduces the reader to the other uniquely-named children in their nomadic band. Her older brother Driver is the leader of their people, but when Driver contracts the deadly illness which shadows their lives, Ice Cream becomes the leader, determined to find a cure. Standing loyally at her side is a man with pale skin and blue eyes - the type of strange person who is known as a "Roo" - and who knows more of the world beyond Ice Cream's people, possibly even where to find a cure. Along with her unlikely helper, Ice Cream is a brave warrior who tenderly watches out for the younger children in her care, calling them by age "my sixes" or "my tens". She is clever, compassionate, and continually thinks of others before herself.
Because the world is run by children who die so young, this is a story of teens involved in sex and war, who must make their own rules about everything. I feel that the author deals with these topics in a realistic and sensible way, though the story definitely takes on some difficult topics. Overall the writing is stunning: the children have their own way of speaking, using words such as "bone" to describe something solid and true, or "bell" to mean beautiful. Reading it for the prose and language alone is reason enough to take on this impressive story.
Ice Cream Fifteen Star is a hero who loves and fights with everything she has, continually looking for hope in a world of chaos. Though flawed - realistically imperfect - I'm glad to have Ice Cream Star as a new literally hero for young girls to look up to.