NAL, $12.95, ISBN 0-451-21300-9
Contemporary Fiction, 2004
Liz Maverick’s second chick-lit offering Adventures of an Ice Princess is about three silly, silly, silly young women traveling all the way to Antarctica after life in Silicon Valley doesn’t turn out the way they envision it to be. I’m not talking about three courageous tough women braving it out in the wilderness out there, mind you. The three women in question pack their bags with designer labelled winter clothes expecting that they will be living in comfortable quarters so they sign up for jobs requiring them to do things they have no idea even how to start. Think the movie Legally Blonde. Take away half the intelligence level in that movie, divide the remaining amount between three women, and you’ll get a close picture to what this book is all about.
Our heroine Clarissa Schnecknerg is the stereotypical chick-lit heroine who doesn’t deviate from the formula. The story is barely out the door when she has resigned from her job, got dumped by her boyfriend of eight years, and have to move back to her parents. Her upright and supposedly more pragmatic friend Kate is shortly fired after Clarissa. Delilah, the fashion-conscious bimbo of the trio, realizes, thanks to Kate, that the company she sold her make-up line to gives her useless responsibilities to keep the silly woman out of any actual responsibilities that she may cause havoc in. All three women, on Kate’s suggestion, decide to pack up and move on to Antarctica, mostly because there they would be spoiled for choice when it came to men.
It is unfortunate that for three women who seems determined to be happy in the testosterone paradiso, Ms Maverick quickly chickens out the moment the three women land in Antarctica and has Clarissa insisting that all ladies wouldn’t do anything funny until a period of dates. Instead of matters of the heart (good luck looking for romance here because you have to look very hard indeed), I get instead very predictable “funny moments” that are telegraphed by the author too early. Silly heroines doing damage every way they go? Check. Women horrified when they realize that there is no equivalent of the Sheraton in Antarctica? Check. Everyone loving the silly biddies at the end of the day because the silly biddies are somehow so cute and earnest in the damage they do? Check.
For Adventures of an Ice Princess to work, it has to be either over-the-top farcically hilarious (its premise, after all, isn’t going to be the foundation of a great literary work anytime soon) or somehow surprises the reader by introducing heartwarming moments and actual brainpower in the heroines. The humor isn’t close to being farcical despite the expected accidental camp explosion or two, with the tone of the story akin to a middling sitcom where it isn’t so bad or so good, but good enough to elicit a chuckle or two and that’s it. The drama is forgettable, mainly because Clarissa the main heroine is the most boring and humorless of the three and her “lessons” at the end of the day are one that could have been learned from a reading or two of Reader’s Digest. You know, skinny dip and scream and life will be good and all that other hackneyed oversimplified psychology stuff. Perhaps if Delilah is the main heroine, the story would be really over-the-top funny and I will laugh along with it, ridiculous premise and silly antics and all.
But instead, this book is actually quite lucid, as if it wants its premise to be taken seriously as something that could really happen to lead up to the happy ending of Clarissa. Yeah, three very silly women seriously out of their league surviving a week in Antarctica – I can buy that. The high number of predictable attempts at comedy means that I don’t laugh as much as I should because I could see the jokes coming a mile away. Adventures of an Ice Princess therefore is actually a pleasant, readable story that is also completely forgettable because it is predictable and barely elicit any response from me other than an odd chuckle or two. That’s a pity because how many books can boast a zany premise of three silly women making their mark in Antarctica, of all places? Ms Maverick deserves credit for making her silly characters likeable and even adorable when these characters are some of the most dim-witted examples of loco heifers in chick-lit but unfortunately, the comedy doesn’t quite work in this book.