The Winter Over by Matthew Iden (Spoilers)

Okay, so the first thing I have to say is that I listened to this book rather than read it, and the narrator for this book was FANTASTIC! She nailed all of the accents. We’re talking, Irish, Russian, Dutch, Southern American, all of it. She lent each character their own personality with her narration and I loved every bit of it.

I picked this book up from one of the daily “Goodreads Deals” e-mails that I get (man those things are hell on my husband’s wallet). The concept sounded super interesting to me: a bunch of scientists who voluntarily spend the winter in the South Pole where it’ll be dark for months and they’re stuck with the same 43 people for 9 months. One of the things that I love about reading is that I can imagine that I would be even slightly capable of some of the things that these female protagonists are and that was the appeal of this book – the fact that I’d like to imagine that I could survive 9 months in the South Pole. I mean, I’m not a mechanical engineer like Cass, but I could do it….

Anyway, there are a few different perspectives that take the lead on some of the chapters, but for the most part the story is told from Cass’ perspective. She’s running away from something, like most people who decide to Winter Over at Shackleton.
Before the base is shut down for the winter, another scientist is found dead on the ice. Cass, with the station director (Hanratty) and the station’s security officer (Taylor) has to help bring the body back to the station. Ha ha, sign me up for that….jk, please don’t. There are a bunch of weird incidences that ensue at the base after the station is locked down, and we end up learning that the company that took over the operations at Shackleton, in conjunction with the station director and one mystery person at the station are conducting a psychological experiment where salutogenesis (how a person reacts to traumatic events that have happened to them in their lives [also I am not a scientist so not sure this is 100% right, this is what I gleaned from the book]) can help unlock a person’s potential thereby making them essentially a super-human.

So we find out, pretty early on in the book, that pretty much everybody who is wintering over at Shackleton has experiences some level of trauma in the past. We learn towards the end that the idea was to expose them to further trauma (the death of a fellow scientist under mysterious circumstances, power failures, sewage problems, etc.) to see if they either break, or become this super-human. It’s definitely an interesting concept.

As far as the storytelling goes, I’ve noticed some level of disconnect with audio books where I just don’t fall as deep in to the story than if I’m reading it myself. Normally, I’ll start a book on audio and then if I get in to it just by listening, I’ll stop listening and just read it. I feel like I can get through the book so much faster that way. And yes, I have tried increasing the audio speed and it just doesn’t work for me. I think I’m too easily distracted. But whether it was my audio book disconnect or storytelling, something about this just fell a little flat for me. The premise was interesting enough for me to pick up the book and interesting enough for me to keep reading, but I wouldn’t say that I was captive to the rest of the story. And not to be gender-ist, but I’ve noticed this same disconnect when a male author writes a female character, which is also the case here.

Either way, my overall rating ended up being….

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