Dark Matter - Michelle Paver

So far, this is working well. It's told in a journal format that could easily become tiresome but, when handled with skill, lets you see what the journal writer sees and all the things that he doesn't see because he takes them for granted or they sit in a blindspot created by ignorance or inexperience.

 

The journal writer is a lower-middle-class man who sees himself as having "missed his chance" through no fault of his own. He's in a party made up of privileged, educated young men, set on an arctic adventure.

 

The writer is focused on the differences between himself and his companions. I can't help but be struck by how similar they all are in their innocent unpreparedness and their unconscious sense of invulnerability.

 

The class aspects are fascinating. I remember reading about Scott's doomed arctic expedition and being struck by the fact that, even when they were dying, there remained an unbreakable seperation between officers and other ranks.

 

Yet what's speaking most clearly to me at the moment is the idea of men in their twenties unable to imagine the reality of the terrible power of a winter. Men who have no experience of the Arctic and yet are confident that, with the right kit, some teamwork and a bit of pluck, they can conquer it. This combination of ignorance, self-confidence and wealth is probably one of the most lethal forces on the planet.