I came across The Icarus Project by Laura Quimby on NetGalley and was instantly intrigued. It sounded like exactly the sort of book I would enjoy. And enjoy it I did.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
More than anything,
Maya wants to discover something incredible. Her parents are scientists:
Her mother spends most of her time in tropical rainforests, uncovering
ancient artifacts, and her dad is obsessed with digging up mammoths.
When her father gets invited by an eccentric billionaire to lead a team
investigating a mammoth’s remains in the Arctic, Maya begs to come
along. Upon her arrival at the isolated camp, the mammoth is quickly
revealed to be a fake, but there is something hidden in the
ice—something unbelievable. Along with a team of international experts,
each with his or her own agenda and theory about the mystery in the ice,
Maya learns more about this discovery, which will change her life
Maya is a great main character. She knows she wants to study science but is unsure of the field she wants to go into. Should she follow in her mother's footsteps? Her father's? Pave her own road? Going on an expedition to the Arctic to dig up a mammoth has never been high on her list of things to do, but when the opportunity comes along she grabs at it. I loved the way Quimby described the Arctic. She did an excellent job of conveying just how cold Maya was and the strange remoteness of such a place. At the station Maya is joined by a boy her age who is there with his anthropologist mother. Kyle is fun and adventurous. He and Maya have an instant rapport and become good friends. There is definitely your typical studious girl/adventurous boy dynamic here, but for the most part is done well. Maya is also quite adventurous in her own right.
The first half of the book is the story of a typical scientific expedition, but is in no way dry. I loved the descriptiveness of the prose, the mysterious people introduced, and Maya's spirit. Then the plot takes a turn and becomes more of a sci-fi/fantasy. Now normally that would excite me greatly, but I actually ended up liking the second half a little less. It felt a little rushed. The discovery of the fantastic, the quick bonding of Maya and Kyle to it, the way it is resolved had to happen very fast. So much time was spent getting to that point that it felt like an awful lot to squeeze into a short space. But I LOVED the getting there so I don't know what I would do about that. This may have been just a me problem and I would certainly recommend it to any young fan of sci-fi or exploring.
I will warning you that nothing is explained in the end. I know this bothers some people. I liked the end and all the different ways you might imagine the explanation to go. I very much liked the way this wasn't so much about having the mystery explained as how it affected Maya.
I read a copy made available via NetGalley by the publisher. The Icarus Project will be available on October 1, 2012.