Explorers on Black Ice Bridge
A book review.
by Alex Bell
This is the third in a series of the Polar Bear Explorer's Club books by Alex Bell. I'm reading them to my daughter. In this story, the kids finally tackle the dread Black Ice Bridge, which claimed the life of the father of one of the children. What they find on (and under) the bridge resolves a lot of the craziness that's been happening throughout the lives of the kids but also the world around them. They discover that it's not a recent phenomenon, either, but rather something that's been ongoing for two hundred years.
They're well crafted books and I really applaud the author for putting some imaginative new elements into what is by now such well-trod ground as to be a featureless plain of tropes and cliches. This book feels like it was technically the best of the three and the story certainly clips along very smoothly. But I have to say that as I've seen with other well-crafted books there is a trade-off: there is something about it that leaves you cold. Everything is just a touch too pat. For instance, two of the parents must come on the voyage this time, but are sidelined in a way that just feels a bit tacked-on. And the challenges the kids face feel just a bit .. safe?
Also, I suspect that the author is struggling with the character that's clearly "on the spectrum". She seems to have the same problem that the South Park guys had with Kenny: what to do with him?