Cold People

Scribner. Feb. 2023. 368p. ISBN 9781982198404. $28. THRILLER
Booker-longlisted Smith’s (“Child 44” trilogy) latest spellbinding novel opens with scenes of a near-future alien invasion of Earth. Although the aliens have not come in peace, they declare that humans have 30 days to make their way to the continent of Antarctica, the only place they will be allowed to survive. A handful of well-written characters grapple with their place in this new world order, including Harvard medical student Liza, an impoverished Portuguese tour guide named Atto, and Israeli soldier Yotam. Alternating timelines offer insight into the growth of the new Antarctic colony, where many people manage to thrive despite immense challenges. The story takes a heightened, suspenseful turn when the main characters become entangled in a human genetic experiment gone awry, which may threaten the future of humanity. In flawlessly precise prose, Smith’s latest combines a number of electrifying sci-fi set pieces with a breathtaking insight into the human instinct to love life and each other, no matter the cost.
VERDICT A speculative masterpiece that will resonate with fans of Emily St. John Mandel, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Jeff VanderMeer.
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