Icarus Project
Title: The Icarus Project
Author: Laura Quimby
ISBN: 9781419704024
Pages: 293 pages
 Publisher/Date: Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS, c2012.

“I know it’s your big chance. That’s why I’m going with you. It’s our big chance.”
Dad shook his head. “You have school. And should stay home.”
I had to think fast. “The expedition will be educational. What kid gets to go to the Arctic to watch real fieldwork in action?” I crossed my arms over my chest and raised an eyebrow. “Plus, spring break is coming up.”
“No, Maya. It’s too dangerous,” he said.
The danger card was the last play of a parent on the edge of caving in. I knew I was close. “I can handle it,” I said. “I’m not afraid. And you’ll be there.” (33)

Thirteen-year-old Maya is thrilled when she talks her way onto her dad’s Arctic expedition to explore what could possibly be a wooly mammoth encased in ice. With an anthropologist mother and a paleontologist father, she’s spent her entire life hearing about all these adventures and exotic places. But the Arctic is cold and spooky with its endless white landscapes. Maya and the rest of the dig team soon realize that they might have been summoned to this vast and deadly wasteland under false pretenses. What is really caught beneath the ice? Who is really running the expedition, and what is their true goal. Maya is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, even if it involves destroying what everyone is trying to protect.

I’ve had this book checked out for much longer than I originally intended. I feel like it was a great idea that came across kind of flat. The dialogue is somewhat stilted in places and the expository portions of the book are a little jarring, but author Laura Quimby presents a character that reminds me of a modern-day Nancy Drew. With a lot of coincidences, some supernatural elements, and a bit of sleuthing, Maya is able to solve the mystery that has stumped the scientist adults. It make an interesting read, and it corresponds surprisingly well to the Summer Reading Theme of both “Dig In” and “Beneath the Surface”. The plot does touch on a lot of discussion worthy topics, such as humanity vs. scientific experimentation/research, cloning and DNA, corporate greed, and also gets slightly religious/supernatural towards the end. The different points of view are represented, although I wish some of these topics had been examined more thoroughly or deeply, but I guess the range of topics hopefully means there is something for everyone. I wonder if the unanswered questions are left that way for discussion purposes, or if there are plans for a sequel.

I feel like Rebecca Stead’s First Light and Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass succeeded with presenting this concept of mysterious beings in a frozen landscape in a more cohesive manner. But if readers of either are looking for something similar, you could recommend these titles as read-a-likes for each other.