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Goat Heads and Sand Burrs, P. Kirby's Reading Blog

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.

Boiling Point

Boiling Point - Karen Dionne *Thar be spoilers below. Ye have been warned.

Nobel Prize winning scientist, Phillipe Dumas, thinks he's found a way to solve the problem of global warming. His solution--seed volcanic eruptions with sulfur dioxide--is seen by some as the greatest thing since sliced bread. To others, it makes him the epitome of "evil genius."

Ross Roundtree, a microbiologist, falls into the latter category. He and his assistant, Sheila Kennedy, literally stumble onto Dumas's plan while researching glaciers in Chile. At which point, anytime he hears Dumas's name, Ross goes from zero to enraged in a millisecond. (Seriously. The guy has anger management issues.)

His sister, former environmental activist-turned-conference organizer, Rebecca Sweet, thinks Dumas's plan is inspired. Rebecca, by the way, is Ross's sister. Family ties, however, don't stop Ross from disowning his sister the instant he finds out she supports Dumas's plan. (Again, the man has ish-shoes.)

Dumas, we find is Sheila's stepfather. Ross, meanwhile, is in love with Sheila. Oh, and Dumas is also in love with his assistant, Stephanie. Boiling Point is as much about surviving a pyroclastic volcanic explosion as it is about the rather warped relationships between its characters.

Why 4-stars? Because, it's a thriller in the purest sense. It moves quickly, immediately throwing its characters into the path of falling boulders and other dangers. The writing is spare and effective, and despite it flaws (there are many), it was a fast, fun read.

The biggest flaw is simultaneously its strength. Honestly, there really isn't a clear protagonist. Dumas is an insufferable arrogant bastard, as one might expect from a human with the hubris to think he can single-handedly alter the climate. He would otherwise be the antagonist, if not for Ross.

Ross is supposed to be a protagonist in an anti-hero kind of way. Sort of. See, in my mind, the inclusion of the word "hero," even if proceeded by "anti," implies that the character should be in some way be likable. Usually this means "funny," if only sardonically so.

Ross is a self-righteous asshole. His backstory suggests that some of his arrogance is driven by previous failures, but there's nothing appealing or compelling about the man. He's not funny. He's not charming. He's supposedly in love with Sheila, but in their one scene together, he treats her with contempt. He struts around snarling at everyone, and in one case, physically attacks someone for no reason. Despite his supposed desire to prevent anyone from dying on his watch, he blithely lets one man fall to his death, then later allows another to die before his eyes. I wanted Ross to die. When it looked like he wouldn't die, I kept reading, hoping .... I'd see his end. "Die, motherf*cker, die!"

My point? I hated Ross so much, I needed to keep reading, pushing on to his much awaited downfall.

An odd reason to like a book, but it kept me turning the pages. (Obviously, this isn't a keeper.)

*Edited for clarity because I wrote this on a Monday following a long "working" Thanksgiving holiday.*