She's a disturbed, quiet girl, but Mina wants to do some good out there. It's just that the world gets in the way. This is Australia in the 1980s, a haven for goths and loners, where a coming-of-age story can only veer into a murder mystery.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
Our keen interest in the '80s is clear, it’s a time when Ronnie Reagan was president, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet were the in-thing and rave and dance music, or indie music hadn’t taken over. The '80s are just as iconic today as the previous decades were. We always go back to them for their fashion inspired looks, amazing celebrities, and in this novel, Bergen has one girl who wants to change the world.
Mina lives in 80s Australia when the goth movement in music had taken hold. Remember Siouxie and the Banshees, Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and The Damned, she is surrounded by the types who listen to this music, even before emos were even thought of. Also by Bergen, Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, One Hundred Years of Vicissitude, The Condimental Op and Who Is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? are some of the strangest titles you will find, and Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth is the story of a strange girl who might resemble the girl on the cover in dark Gothic Lolita style, tied to a landscape by strings, ones I think she wants to break.
Mina starts out by telling her story of events that have happened in her life, narrating them as they have already happened, but is this real?
Readers may get the feeling that a great deal of it is fictional, made up from off the top of her head as she is quite the dreamer, and you get the impression she is either lying, or it didn’t happen at all. There is more than an element of Alice in Wonderland to this story and I found it one that I couldn’t help but keep picking up to find out what would happen next. Mina has to make sense of a life where her relationships and friendships have all been strange, almost fictional, you could say.
Bergen keeps the reader hanging onto the reality of it all, even if at times it is impossible, but to be honest, and to give the writer his dues, he manages to take me back to the '80s where the music was better and the fashions of the day were fun, but the feelings of Mina and her other characters are not to be missed either.
For anyone reading this who is younger than forty, there is a nice Antedeluvia Almanac where Bergen explains most of the words associated with '80s pop culture, the bands, singers and movies out at the time, plus Aussie slang some may not have heard of. It is obvious from the cover illustrated by Kyme Chan, the back cover image by Suka Pon-ta and the pop culture references that lean toward Japanese culture that our author is a Japanophile. His interest has also crept into his other novels and holds a personal interest for me.
http://www.britishfantasysociety.org/reviews/depth-charging-ice-planet-goth-by-andrez-bergen-book-review/ ~ Sandra Scholes, The British Fantasy Society
My old man believed in first impressions. He thought people who didn't understand the importance of making a strong first impressions were idiots, underachievers too caught up in their own ego to appreciate the big picture. Over a decade of living on my own proved him right, but every rule has its exception.
Take Andrez Bergen, for example. His first novel TOBACCO-STAINED MOUNTAIN GOAT struck me as an enjoyable oddity and I almost threw the towel on him after reading WHO IS KILLING THE GREAT CAPES OF HEROPA? Sometimes, it only matters to make a decent enough impression to keep your reader doing what he should be doing. If Bergen hadn't persevered through his flaws, I wouldn't have got to read the hidden treasure that is DEPTH CHARGING ICE PLANET GOTH.
Mina is a young, nerdy goth girl navigating her way through the land-mined paths of teenagehood and high school the best she can. She's having some issues at home though, suffering from the abuse of one of her family members, and her overflowing imagination created an imaginary friend called Animeid in order to help her cope with such a difficult situation. Mina's becoming a young woman, though and she has to face important decision that'll dictate the course of her upcoming adult life. Reality and fiction always end up going their separate ways, but in order to overcome her demons, Mina will have to bulldozer a new path for herself somewhere in between both.
Andrez Bergen has finally cracked it open. I've always believe in his peculiar, feverish, staccato-delivered style, but thought that it was ill-fitting to his previous novels' content. The proverbial square peg in the round hole, if you will. It's right at home in DEPTH CHARGING ICE PLANET GOTH though, through the eyes of Mina, Bergen's nerdy and sensitive protagonist, who has a hundred centers of interest, and a hundred ways to cope with the challenges of her young existence. Mina even triggered my ol' empathy gland, which I hadn't used in a while. I used to be not that different from her, if you swap the goth obsessions for a nerdy fascination with every possible form of extreme metal. So there was an emotional component to my appreciation of DEPTH CHARGING ICE PLANET GOTH.
There's more than a fun, nerdy protagonist to DEPTH CHARGING ICE PLANET GOTH, though. There is this polyphonic metafictional approach that's keep you bouncing from one world to another, sometimes through Mina's own fiction, sometimes through her imaginary and, what I thought made this approach interesting, Mina' situation is a part of every of her layers of reality in one way or another. DEPTH CHARGING ICE PLANET GOTH has this Christopher Nolan puzzle-like quality to it that deploys the story in several mismatched pieces. It is slightly challenging, but it doesn't demand Olympian effort to follow since it has kind of a narrative highway tying everything together: Mina's family situation.
DEPTH CHARGING ICE PLANET GOTH is somewhat of a perfect storm for Andrez Bergen. It's a coming-of-age novel seen through the eyes of a tormented child trying to become an adult. It's whimsical enough not to be melodramatic and it's serious and cohesive enough to keep readers under. Bergen always struck me as being a tad overambitious in the past, but this works. It's like a wayward athlete finding the right team to make him happy and productive. If Andrez Bergen keeps going in this direction, he'll have a lifelong fan in me. He's a pretty eclectic and peculiar author, but if you have to choose one of his novels to read, make it DEPTH CHARGING ICE PLANET GOTH. It's one of the best novels I've read in 2015, so far. ~ Benoit Lelievre, Dead End Follies
I’m excited guys. I really am. Because today, once again, I am highlighting the highly talented Andrez Bergen. I’ve mentioned him numerous times on this blog and lauded him with as much acclaim as possible. For good reason. In my opinion, this guy is one of the best Indie Authors out there – if not THE best. His style of writing, attention to detail – and numerous references to music, pop culture, Anime and classic cinema, all mixed in with his Australian style of humour just come together in one perfect blend. It sucks you in and makes you feel that you aren’t just reading the story, you’re living it! That was the case I felt with Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat and One Hundred Years of Vicissitude.
So when I heard he had a new novel coming out I just HAD to read it! And as this will be my last Pandragon Reviews for a while, what better way to end it than with one of my favourite authors! So let’s wrap up warm for the journey that is Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth.
This cover is just WOW! I love how the white background allows all the other colours to just leap out at you and Mina’s icy stare just catches you off guard. Notice how she appears to have puppet strings around her? Symbolism! This kinda reminds me of old school Sci-Fi novel covers – or even classic Horror movie posters. Either way it catches the eye.
She's a disturbed, quiet girl, but Mina wants to do some good out there. It's just that the world gets in the way. This is Australia in the 1980s, a haven for goths and loners, where a coming-of-age story can only veer into a murder mystery.
What I liked
Firstly, let me just say this. Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth – BEST. TITLE. EVER! This is one of those titles that, even if you don’t know what the story is about, you wanna check it out just by the title alone! It’s a title that captures the surreal wit that Bergen is famous for. It also catches you off guard a little as, on hearing it, I thought it was gonna be a sci-fi story. The tale I got was a little different, but still worth reading.
Like his other novels, Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth is told from the POV of the protagonist – in this case Mina. Mina is a kind introverted girl with some issues – mostly abuse at the hands of her older sibling and generally being just an outcast of society. Then she meets a dark character called Animeid (read it backwards and you get a hint as to what is going down) and then s*** really starts to get real! I won’t spoil too much of the story, but rest assured things get increasing more violent as the story goes on.
Now compared to other protagonists from Andrez Bergen’s previous novels, Mina is a little bit more introverted compared to say, the protagonists of Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat and One Hundred Years of Vicissitude – but she still has the biting sarcasm and wit that you would expect from Mr Bergen’s stories. She probably is a little bit more unstable mentally than many of the other characters, but I personally could understand a lot of her agony. She has a pretty unhappy lifestyle and pretty much is tormented by members of her own family. Throughout the narration, we delve a little deeper into her psychological state and, through the help of Animeid, she gains a little more confidence – possibly at the cost of her sanity.
The one thing I liked about this story is that a lot of it was opened to interpretation – especially the character of Animeid. And as a lot of this is told from Mina’s point of view, we never really are getting the full explanation. Is there a supernatural element at work – or is Anim just in Mina’s head and she’s using it as a way of coping with all the crap that’s going on and using that as a way to help her stand up to her problems. Or maybe put something else right – again, no spoilers.
On a side note, it is great to read about a female protagonist. Not that I didn’t like his other main characters, I always enjoy reading about female leads that aren’t just “femme fatale’s”.
In many ways, the novel serves as a metaphor for growing up in general. Sorta like a coming of age tale in a way – albeit with somewhat darker themes of abuse and possibly mental illness. However, what I liked most about the story is that it doesn’t always go the way you expect it to and the tale can throw the odd twist in here and there. It means that even if you’ve worked out a twist, the story can still surprise you.
What I didn’t like
The only minor nitpick I would say about this (and it is just a nitpick) was that I felt some of the chapters were a little longer than they needed to be. Not that that was a major problem as the chapters are laid out so that they don’t overload you with too much info at once (which is always the trick when writing chapters), but I couldn’t help but think maybe the chapters could be shorter. That’s just a personal thing for me and the ONLY negative I would say about this book.
PROS (Frozen – that’s the Celldweller song NOT the film! Give it a listen):
Best title ever!
A great metaphor for isolation, loneliness and psychosis.
Tale is captivating and drags you in.
Has plenty of twists and surprises.
CONS (cold as ice):
Some chapters are a bit too long.
Once again, Andrez Bergen has written a tale that is entertaining, unique and has more style and substance in two pages than most recent bestsellers have in their entire word count! Why this guy isn’t winning more awards I don’t know – but he should. Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth is a great mix of coming of age with dark subtext and some possibly supernatural themes as well. It’s a captivating read – although maybe that’s just me being biased! Either way, I highly recommend this novel. READ IT NOW!!!
FINAL SCORE: 4.5/5 ~ Dan Wright, Pandragon Dan
Andrez Bergen has done it again. In Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth, Bergen weaves a story that is both unique and nostalgic. Set in 80s era Australia, Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth uses pop culture references to root a surreal story in a way that many writers envy.
Mina is a quiet senior girl in Australia. The reserved member of her friend group, Mina has little difficulty blending into the background of her own life. She has a distant father, an abusive brother, and a dead mother. Mina retreats into her own world, reading comic books and writing stories.
And interacting with a bird-like woman named Animeid.
As Mina deals with an abusive environment, her mental state gradually declines. Things around her fall apart. Close friends become distant. A beacon in the form of a strange girl shines in Mina’s life. Angelika’s presence rocks Mina’s life and spurs her to make some major changes. Additionally, a force beyond Mina’s control sets her on path that explores the depths of her mind.
Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth walks a fine line between a traditional coming-of-age story and surreal fantasy. Bergen draws in the reader with a protagonist that fosters compassion and identification, than flips the switch and drags the reader into a swirling nest of emotions. The mystery behind Mina’s life emerges, adding another layer to the story. As we learn more about Mina and her emotional health, the book becomes harder and harder to put down.
Bergen’s latest novel keys into popular events of the 80s, especially references pertaining to the goth movement. From music to hair to makeup, Mina and other character embrace goth culture. Further, Bergen pays homage to comic books through Mina’s own love for the medium. Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth is a great read for those who love the music of the 80s, comics of the 70s, and classic films of the 60s as well as addictive coming-of-age stories. Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth is available in print and digital formats from Perfect Edge Books. ~ Mara Wood, NerdSpan
“The past. That’s all it is. A dead currency. She runs ringers over the stubble of the buzz cut on her scalp, feeling the occasional scar, counts five different ones, each with their own story.”
If you enjoy your sleep, do not pick this book up. If there is one thing Bergen does right (and he does many things out of this world) it is keeping the pages a turning. And this is his biggest offender yet. I was up till 2 o’clock in the morning, flipping through the numbers to see what foul fate happened next. It was an exhilarating ride.
Make no mistake. This book may start off innocent enough, but it soon spirals out of control and right into Bergen’s capable and crafty hands.
Mina is an Australian teenager eking out her days either chatting on the fringes with her friends or typing away a new creative spark. Or being beaten by her older brother. Or talking to her imaginary bird friend. And it only gets stranger from there.
We have an angst-filled prose of a rollercoaster ride that rollicks us through mental and physical abuse, experimentation, and a whole dollop of deception, all set to a background of various gothic and rock songs. Bergen knows how to set a scene and keep the atmosphere from cluttering it up, all while creating a vivid setting of 1980s Melbourne. While the prose can become cumbersome, especially in the beginning, once you hitch a ride on this surreal escapade, you’re in it for the long haul.
“Just another of those weeks that flies by and leaves you wondering what single worthwhile thing actually happened.”
Nothing goes right for a typical teenage girl. As I’ve mentioned already, she’s the victim of abuse and indifference, coping from a recent death of her mother and reckless abandon of her father. While she’s rocking out to a new muse, he’s escorting in other women and letting his underage son drink himself silly. It’s a warm, dark, dank environment that creates a shy loner that hides behind her fringe.
But as time goes by, Mina learns that we’re all hiding, playing games and wearing a mask, so what does it matter? She trades her fake friends for mascara wearing raccoons where one ends up pulling her out of her shell and the other opens up to her. It’s exactly what this heartbroken girl needs.
“Well, I think it’s obvious – you’re unreliable. You have a chronic inability to fathom what’s going on right before your field of vision; you deceive yourself, me, and anyone else you care to include. Have no idea of how you feel and refuse to try. Selfish and somewhat self-indulgent.”
Unfortunately, things fall apart quickly.
Around the halfway mark, everything goes to pot. We’re subjected to one of the strangest dream sequences I’ve seen in a while. It can be jarring. But it’s meant to establish a divide and create a drive for our drifting protagonist. And once that hits, the last 40 percent never lets up.
Almost as good as the pulling descriptions is the dialogue. From Bergen’s third book, Who Is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? I know that he can write some damn amazing conversations. And here he shows off his expertise once more. Peppering the flowing sentences is a juxtaposition of tight, concise back and forths. Strains of talking that keep you moving and keep you guessing, especially near the end. Your head will explode when you realize the title’s namesake, but Bergen won’t let up. There’s more to be told.
“I feel my head is stuffed full of cotton wool, rammed in tight with a shoehorn, and someone’s been liberally dressing the stuff with liquid Panic.”
But it would be wrong of me to not mention the greatest part of this book. No, it’s not the pacing or the writing or the tone. It’s his deepest, most well developed character to date. Mina is an absolute joy to follow, and her plight is made even better by the weird strings that tug on her and the way she interacts at each decision. She’s smart and stays true to character. She doesn’t adhere to a set plot, as you would expect in most murder mysteries; the plot adheres to her as any great bildungsroman.
It is the environment he moulds, in each and every sad conversation, in all of the harrowing scenes from a simple chat at a café to a near rape scene. Every single moment packs a punch, and we’re there to experience this with her.
Thus, it’s very easy to get attached to her. And Bergen does a fantastic job with not only the main star, but with his entire cast.
The only criticism I have is that it starts off sluggishly and thick, but this more than pays off in the explosive ending. And what an ending. A fine quip to past readers, and a lovely sail into the sunset. It’s fitting, remarkable, and exactly what both Mina and Andrez needed.
A chance at self-discovery in one fine mess of ordered chaos.
“Relaxing now into the seat I blow out my cheeks, and then smile.” ~ Caleb Hill, Acerbic Writing
'Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth' is rather different in style and tone from much of Andrez Bergen’s previous body of work. Even so, though, there’s a distinct flavor to it that, if you’re familiar with Bergen’s writing, is unmistakable. His influences and his passions always stand out, from elements of noir to classic films and comic books to music, and more. As I’ve remarked before, this tendency to wear his passions on his sleeve is part of what makes Bergen’s work so much fun to read.
This particular novel is set in Australia in the 1980s. We follow Mina, a high school girl coming into her own amid an avalanche of problems all around her. Her mother died just a few short weeks before the story begins. Her brother beats and abuses her, and has since she was little. And, her father, while not a bad person per se, is distant and completely oblivious to her emotional state.
Mina refuses to talk about any of the awful things going on in her life, and when confronted about them, she shrugs it off and pretends that they don’t bother her. Instead, to deal with these problems, she retreats into fantasy. Her outlet is a typewriter, with which she turns the people and events in her life into fantastical stories, ranging from sci-fi to adventure to (of course) noir. The action of the novel itself is frequently broken up by bits of these stories—several of which the keen observer may recognize, particularly if they’ve read the anthology Bergen published last year, 'The Condimental Op'.
Writing can be a good and healthy way of dealing with emotional trauma; however, Mina also retreats into fantasy in another, somewhat darker way: a large, black-feathered bird-woman named Animeid, her sometime rescuer, sometime tormenter, who wreaks merry havoc in Mina’s life and is, of course, invisible to everyone but Mina.
I found myself identifying with Mina rather more than I expected to, especially considering that I was never a teenage girl, nor did I grow up in Australia in the 1980s. But, certain events in her life parallel my own, and, in particular, her reactions to these events are rather more familiar than I’m comfortable with. In that way she’s identifiable, yes, but not always easy to like. That’s not a criticism, but merely an observation—Mina in fact doesn’t always like herself either. But, as she comes into her own, both she and we begin to like her and root for her more and more.
This is not your typical coming-of-age story, though. It starts out that way, but eventually encompasses a variety of different styles and genres, from sci-fi to mystery, and more—even apart from the stories-within-a-story that we glimpse from Mina’s writings. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this one. It’s odd and unique, at times funny, at times poignant, but always compelling. If you’re looking for something outside the norm, you should definitely give this one a read.
~ Steven W. Alloway, Fanboy
Sixteen year old Mina lives in Nede (that's 'Needy' out loud), a suburb of the Australian state of Victoria where she's in the final throes of school. However she feels very much an outsider, especially after the recent death of her mother. Mina's alienated further by her bullying elder brother and her father's attempts to move on with his life before Mina is ready. She has friends that she spends time with in a disinterested Goth way, the friend who understands her most being Animeid. Animeid is even more different than Mina, being half-girl, half-bird, but neither of them seems to mind. It doesn't affect anyone else after all – Mina's the only person who can see her.
Aussie born, Japan-adopted Andrez Bergen has a reputation for surprise and originality. This is only the second of his books that I've read but I'd say that reputation is founded on fact. In a single bound we've gone from murder among the super hero community in the comic fantasy noir 'Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?' to this, just as surreal but darker shocker. ('Shocker' in a good way!)
From the beginning our hearts go out to Mina because, although she isn't someone we understand, we want to delve past all the pain and bereavement she's been through and try. (Whether she wants us to or not.) Her family (father Jim and brother Patrick) are periphery people whom we don't get to know that well as Mina won't let us. This is her story and she (along with Animeid) is the nucleus.
Mina is someone I'm betting that most will react to strongly. Although fascinated by her, I grew to like her invisible friend more. Animeid has a great sense of irony coupled with an ability to sum up a situation in a sentence or even a word. Her ideas are a tad on the unconventional side but then so is she. Who is she? What is she? We're invited to form our own opinions around Andrez's cleverly arranged set pieces.
Cleverly arranged? Oh definitely – Mr Bergen is a very intelligent author, much to our entertainment and delight. The cultural jokes that peppered Heropa before now give way to word play and some seemingly insignificant touches that come to mean so much.
There are also references that draw us back to the 80s. Some (like Mina's love of Joy Division and New Order) will mean something to readers in both hemispheres. Whereas a couple (like references to Melbourne's fixed fun fair, Luna Park) encourage us to scuttle off to our favourite search engine. Having said that, we can all remember what it was to be young and we all knew a Mina on the edge of a school-aged social circle.
The really devious thing is that, just when we feel we're coming to grips with Mina's world, we're thrown into violent mayhem and a jaw-dropping finale. Andrez may have left the laughs of Heropa behind but this dark, cynical volume isn't the sort of thing we read only once. Having got to the end I had to re-read just to pick up the clues that I'd missed. Indeed a masterly touch, Mr B! ~ Ani Johnson, The Bookbag
What’s it about?:
Andrez Bergen’s latest novel follows a sixteen year old misfit named Mina who currently is facing some major problems. Namely, that her mother just died, that her older brother physically and emotionally abuses her - not to mention all the school drama that regularly dogs a teenage girl’s life. Throw into the mix that she has an invisible, bird-like friend named Animeid and her life grows even more complicated. Despite this smorgasbord of emotional chaos Mina is more disturbed by her lack of feeling towards it all and she aims to find out why that is so. Set in Australia during 1986, and brimming with pop culture references to constantly remind us of its historical setting, this is a story about growing up and realising who it is you are and want to be. Also, it’s a murder mystery.
Is it any good?:
Kudos must be given to Bergen for skilfully depicting an actually believable teenage girl on page; Mina’s mannerisms, her speech, her dynamic with her friends are all spot on and highlight the writer’s ability to really get inside the minds of his characters. The plot itself blurs the line between the sci-fi/fantasy and Bildungsroman genres for the most part successfully, but there’s an abrupt tonal shift about halfway through the novel that takes the reader in a whole other different direction and it is definitely a bit jarring. Characters who you thought you had sussed out reveal themselves to be vastly (even horrifyingly) different. Once one can overcome the initial shock, however, the second half of the story turns out to be just as intriguing as the first. Fans of Bergen’s previous work will no doubt be used this anyhow. What saves the novel’s structure from complete collapse under the weight of all its elements is Mina, whose narration is sharp, likeable, and keeps the reader at an even pace. There’s a lot going on in this novel (though what would one expect with a title that long), and at times it can feel a bit overstuffed, but Bergen always manages to keep his head above water; everything has its purpose and everything has its place. It’s a slow burner but the reader is rewarded with a great pay off after so much build up.
In 2 words:
Read it. ~ , ComicBuzz
I don't quite know where to start with Bergen's new novel.
Problem is I am a bit biased as it takes place in an era I didn't know I loved as much as I did and with mention of music I still love. So I think I would have loved to hear Andrez just reminisce.
However the narrative in Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth is typically superb. In fact I think new to Andrez (or maybe I've not noticed before) but he has an almost Craig Wallwork ability to write nothing and have it interesting. In this case the contrary discussions of teen girls and their 'bangs' yet, DCIPG has a dark river running through it, of a father fucking away his grief and his conquests remaining in the morning like a toilet stink, a torturous older brother who like his father has a drinking problem.
We follow Mina, an accidentally alternative girl who escapes through writing, the creativity manifests itself as Anim, a dark influence that is the clear window on Mina's ever fractured existence. Without spoilers, there are simply wonderful elements of tension such as one via a drunken friend of her brother that leaves you holding your breath.
What I did find wonderful was how Andrez wove escapism and an alternative fantasy with a voyeuristic narrative that just works and somehow makes the experience all the more intimate.
I love the fusion feel of this book. I love how it proudly cross pollinates comic style blunt with coming of age literature, so much is great about DCIPG. I think I might fancy Anim too!! ~ Jonny Gibbings, Author of Malice in Blunderland
Well it’s certainly an eye-catching title, but it doesn’t give a lot away, so I really didn’t know what to expect from the book.
Trouble is, having read it, I’m still not entirely sure what I got. It’s been a long time since I read a book that left me with such divided feelings.
Mina Rapace is a troubled seventeen year old growing up in Melbourne (renamed Nede in the book for some reason), in the mid 1980s. Her mother has recently died and her brother has been physically abusing her for years. Her friends are a caricature of the bitchy teen girls beloved of US dramas. And to cap it all, she has an imaginary friend, a bird-girl called Animeid, yes, read that backwards…
Now if I’d just read the above before being given the book I’d have handed it straight back! Not my type of book at all. But, to be fair I’d be doing it an injustice. There's a lot to like about Planet Goth. Mina is an interesting character, yes she’s troubled, but who wouldn’t be in her position? One of her ways of dealing with the situation is to write fiction. The story is peppered with excerpts from her latest stories, all of which seem destined to remain unfinished. They are however quite entertaining and give an insight into her state of mind and need for escape.
Mina’s home and school life are slowly disintegrating when she befriends Angelika, a new girl at her school. Through her new friend she is introduced to the local Goth scene. This, for me, is the best part of the book. I’m sure lots of us would recognise Mina’s feelings of wonder and joy as she makes new friends and discovers a whole new world of music and fashion.
The story [then] picks up again and morphs into a murder mystery. This isn’t as strange or abrupt as it sounds, the groundwork for it having been covered earlier in the book.
Mina, however, is a fascinating and quirky character. It would be unfair to call her disturbed, different would be a better description. Much of the book focuses on her internal monologue and this is well written and always entertaining. ~ , The Cult Den
'Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth' is a dark and angsty roller coaster ride set to a wickedly awesome goth rock soundtrack.
In the center of it all is Mina, an anything but typical teenager. Long time sufferer of mental and physical abuse at the hands of her brother, daughter to a dead mother and somewhat clueless father, shy and self-conscious Mina struggles to find her place among the rest of her school mates. Sure, she's part of an inner circle of friends, but she often finds herself on the outer edges of the group, peeking in from beneath her fringe bangs, feeling the most alone when in the presence of others. At home, when she's not being roughed up, she locks herself away in her room composing short stories, rocking out to the darker classic alt bands of the eighties, and hanging with her feathered friend Animeid, a girl she looks to as protector and confidant, a girl who is a complete and utter figment of her imagination.
Mina does a pretty good job of playing normal and seems to be keeping her crazy in check - acting out in all the usual teenage ways: dying her hair, plastering on the goth greasepaint, getting drunk in the clubs, falling for strange older boys, and getting dumped by one group of friends only to find herself caught up in the swish and sway of another.
But the crazy can only be quieted for so long before we find ourselves staring over the edge of the rabbit hole with Mina, slugging back Elysium in the hopes of returning to a relatively normal life and instead, finding ourselves tugged down inside its black, gaping maw, directly into Bergen's capable and waiting hands.
Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth is a book that avoids genre. It's a melting pot of science fiction, murder mystery, and coming of age YA, whipped to a froth and blended beyond recognition. While it's not for everyone... it's a reading experience that the braver fans of unconventional literature will not want to miss.
Think cult classic film 'Heathers' with a healthy heap of 'Alice in Wonderland', and you've got the idea. ~ Lori Hettler, The Next Best Book Club
I have to say that this book definitely did jump out at me from the pack. I read the sample on Amazon and whacked the upcoming paperback on my Amazon Wish List. Love the cover art, by the way! ~ , Little Gothic Horrors
Andrez Bergen’s novels are unmistakeable.
From the moment you glimpse the title “Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth” it’s obvious that this is a story unlike the others on the shelf, and it does not disappoint.
Firmly set in 1986, as the regular pop culture and musical references remind us, it’s a glimpse at the punishing hand life has dealt Mina, an awkward, self-conscious (read: average) teenage girl in the small town of Nede. She’s still reeling from the death of her mother when we’re first introduced to her, or more accurately, her lack of tears throughout the ordeal. Her father is distant and trying to replace his wife through a series of sexual conquests cum marital palate cleansers. Her brother is a temperamental, cruel beast to be avoided, as he sadistically torments her whenever the mood strikes him— and it often has, from childhood to present day. Her friends are hardly friends at all, a clique whose top girl shuns individuality and seems only content to have Mina as a placeholder to keep their membership total at 5. They’re all eerily familiar to this gal who shared many a table with girls like them growing up, but that also highlights the irony of the whole situation: they’re all just as nervous and self-deprecating as Mina is, they’ve simply gotten better at hiding it through their hive-mind behaviour. It’s a credit to Bergen’s writing that he’s able to write these teenage girls believably: sometimes catty, often afraid, and always more than what appears on the surface— Mina in particular.
Because after everything that’s happened to Mina in her life, there are still more complications. Specifically, Animeid: a feathered female creature that only Mina can see/hear, which makes regular conversation with her friends amongst Animeid’s snippy comments or threats of violence towards anyone who wrongs her, difficult at best. This construct, mythical beast, or whatever she may be is interested in protecting Mina at all costs, and though it seems she doesn’t have the ability to physically interact with her surroundings, she’s an intimidating force in Mina’s life. On top of trying to survive high-school, her family, and her grief, Mina also alternates between ignoring Animeid and focusing on the implications of her very existence.
Even though Animeid’s presence could firmly set the novel in the fantasy or science-fiction genre, it crosses those boundaries with ease without ever settling on one niche. A brutally honest look at teenaged life in the 80s— with several Best-Of albums' worth of musical attributions throughout— Bergen’s latest novel is a fascinating read that led down paths I didn’t expect to be explored, in ways that left me feeling distinctly unsettled.
There’s a lot at work in this story: loss, love, and more than a smidgeon of lunacy, making "Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth" one of the most refreshing reads of 2014. ~ Nicole Rodrigues, Dork Shelf
I recently finished reading 'Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth', Andrez Bergen's soon to be published new novel.
Words really can't describe how much I am impressed by his latest effort. Suffice it to say, I was totally blown away. While containing many of his usual themes, he really takes his storytelling to new levels. Anyone who has visited this page knows what a big supporter I am of Andrez, and this, in my opinion, is his best tale to date. Here's a short synopsis, followed by some thoughts.
In DCIPG, we are introduced to Mina, a sixteen year old (soon to be seventeen) schoolgirl. Also along for the ride are her small circle of friends, and Animeid, her invisible friend (Yes, you read correctly. Anim also happens to be a bird woman.) Recently having lost her mother (which her friends are unaware of), she's bothered by her lack of emotion. As she trudges through her life, it becomes more apparent that she is a bit of a mystery, especially to herself. So she sets out to find out who she really is, helped along by Anim and Angelika, the new girl at her school. Along the way she visits the Depth Charging Planet Goth, finds love, seeks to find out who Anim really is, and sorts one of her tormentors. Oh yeah, and uncovers a murder mystery.
I'll start out by saying that I invested a lot, emotionally, into this story.
A great number of the happenings within I have some amount of experience with. Moreover, I deeply cared about Mina and her well being, due to Andrez portraying her in such a realistic light (Also, she has excellent taste in movies, music, and is a talented hack-writer. Reminds me of someone I know. Her journey to find her place in the world (and later, to find a world where she has a place) is something we have all gone through, to one extent or another. She learns to face her abusers, and stand up for herself, becoming a more complete person. That's the crux of this story. Despite some of the fantastical goings-on, Mina could be you, or me, or all of us. I challenge you to read this and not feel any emotion for her and her struggles. The writing and characterizations overflow with life, and the mystery holds up; I definitely didn't see the ending coming. An excellent tale of the unreality of reality, and how to survive in such environs, and thrive.
To close, I'd like to say that this is one of the best stories I've read in quite some time, hands down.
Andrez has really outdone himself on this one. Is this book for everyone? That's not for me to say, but I definitely think it SHOULD be! Gripping, engrossing, can't put down, what have you. It contains a little bit of everything, just like real life. You should get your hands on it and find out for yourself. Head over to the publisher's site, Perfect Edge Books and find out more about this excellent release (it will be out July 25, 2014). ~ Shawn Vogt , Weird and Wonderful Reads
My new favorite Bergen novel. It was quite a surprise at the change of voice and tone of storytelling. Reminded me of The Secret History mashed up with Ghost World if it took place in the 80's. Not as surreal as his previous novels but still filled with his signature quips and loaded with references.
What I loved about this novel was the surprise on each new page as I would continue to read.
A fresh take on a coming-of-age novel. The Catcher in the Rye from a female perspective... so many great things to say about this book. Definitely for book lovers looking for a new style of literature to soak in. ~ Jazmyn Mares, Goodreads
Andrez is really, really good at getting books into people's hands. This is how come I'm one of those with a copy of DEPTH CHARGING ICE PLANET GOTH several months before publication. He's also really, really good at titles. This is how come it's called DEPTH CHARGING ICE PLANET GOTH.
These are things to bear in mind.
I also really, really liked WHO IS KILLING THE GREAT CAPES OF HEROPA?. Because Andrez is a really, really good writer. And that most precious of beasts, a writer with a pretty much fearless imagination. And a nice guy.
That's also something to bear in mind.
The short, short version is that I really liked DCIPG too, not quite as much as HEROPA, but it's still a fine book and you should purchase it with your moneys when you can, for definite. You will not regret it.
Explaining why I liked it "not quite as much but still a lot" will require the use of elaborate techniques to avoid spoilers and you probably won't understand what I mean when I say half this stuff.
That's the final thing to bear in mind.
OK. So. DCIPG is a Bergen-standard blend of genres (HEROPA's probably the only easy-to-classify one, and even that has elements of others). It's part teenage coming of age drama about a 17-year-old girl in 1987 Melbourne with an abusive brother and a recently dead mother. It's also part FIGHT CLUB. And part HEATHERS (which is coming of age, of course, but with a hefty side order of psycho). And part... FEAR AND LOATHING. Ish. Or Philip K Dick. Look, shut up; I'm struggling for analogies.
The first two thirds concentrate on the (sometimes hideous) school and home life of Mina, her clique-y circle of friends, the new kid at school who disrupts all this, and her family and past. It's a slow burn, but it needs to be, and Mina comes across as totally believable and sympathetic. Nicely complex, too. (Note: believability relative to my lack of never having been a teenage girl.) Good things happen, bad things happen...
And then there's a fairly abrupt shift. The story takes a big jump into very different territory (for perfectly good reasons), and I was thrown a little. Then it jumps again, and Mina's life is very different and new to her, and... I wasn't as sold on New Mina as on old. One character central to her story before had also shifted and had a past and... again. And then she sort of shifts back to Old Mina, and it turns out some of Old Mina's former friends and relations are very different than she'd imagined. They reveal all to her and... she ends it. Sensibly, I might add, and I felt back on firmer ground. The actual close to the story itself is superbly judged, too.
That sounds a lot more critical than I'm trying to be. But it's a little like explaining why the delicious honeycomb ice cream you just ate wasn't quite as delicious as the other honeycomb ice cream you had that time in that place. You end up focussing on the small things and everyone really needs to remember the context you're placing them in.
So, the context:
* Mina's a great main character. Animeid (you'll see) is a sharp addition of ambivalent loyalties. Her arc carries you through very well indeed.
* And it's a good arc. You want to follow it.
* 80s Melbourne is excellently realised and rich in colour and depth.
* Mina's family (I particularly liked her uncle) are great throughout, even the bad ones.
* Her relationships with her friends, old and new, are solid and carry enough tension and interest to push the story. Which, as a coming of age tale at heart, they need to be.
* While the shifts threw me a little (especially that big one), they're not crazy, just a bit sharp. They do mix up the story and keep things running along.
* I like the ambiguity of what I can only describe as the FIGHT CLUB element. It's not FIGHT CLUB, but allow me to run with the analogy. I'd have to read it again to be sure, but I wasn't sure if it wasn't just a touch too ambiguous come the end for me, though. A little like getting to the end and not being sure if Tyler was actually the narrator or not.
* That said, hey, FIGHT CLUB element. Ambiguous or not, it's very well done and a great part of the story.
* And I love the note the story ends on.
So. As you can see, it's a fine book (hence 900 words of review). And definitely the most wildly inventive teenage girl grows up book you're likely to read this year. You can tell for yourselves by buying it when it's out, and then you'll also know for sure what the hell I've been talking about. Which you should. Buy it, I mean. ~ John Rickards, The Nameless Horror
Mina is a typical 17-year-old girl from Melbourne, her life a poster for normalcy: going to high school, hanging out with friends, listening to music, reading books, writing stories, going to the odd party, etc.
However, the façade is one of crafty deception, behind a long fringe and downcast eyes hides an inner torment and imaginary solace to a life more attune to violence and condemnation than the carefree rebellious teen life she should be leading.
Subjected to physical and mental abuse at the hateful hand of her older sibling, Mina conjures up Anim, an imaginary friend with real life influence who becomes her confidante and closest ally against the unbrotherly bombardment.
Adding to this hard knock life story is the typical teenage angst mixed with fluid friendship, experimental intoxication and a form of escapism that’s surreal and real at once. Mina is a complex character who experiences the full gambit of emotions as she shifts through a time lapse of events that at once captures the essence of 1980s Australia and something a little other-worldly.
Author Andrez Bergen makes the fantastical and real bleed into one another; the seamless trajectory of actions to and from the respective perspective create a lucid dream experience that encapsulates genre fiction in its many iterations.
DEPTH CHARGING ICE PLANET GOTH does not subscribe to a label/category of fiction which makes this refreshing and unpredictable.
Bergen builds upon his strength in diversity to ensure Mina’s plight is one of multiple possibilities and dimensions. We, as the reader, get to enjoy this vivid imagery and enthralling tale of survival, endurance, and coming-of-age.
DEPTH CHARGING ICE PLANET GOTH is due out midyear in 2014. ~ OzNoir, Just a Guy That Likes To Read
Andrez Bergen introduces us to his most remarkable character to date — no mean feat if you have read his other books — in the form of the wonderful, crazy, misunderstood Mina Rapace.
Her life is far from easy, even fantastical, but often uncomfortably close to home set as it is in a period in which readers of my own vintage were coming of age. So amidst his truly fabulous storytelling — and quite dark this one is — are the goth bands, old movies and TV shows, comics and alt. culture that are instantly recognizable and beloved.
Mina herself is an amazingly strong character, brilliantly written, with the most appalling life and yet she somehow picks herself up after everything that is thrown at her and triumphs, like a fallen angel losing feathers from her wings as she falls, and making us wish we had half of her heroic strength.
A darkly gothic tale, eminently enjoyable, and to my mind, the author's best to date."
~ , In Glorious Technicolor
You never know what to expect from a new novel by Andrez Bergen — except that it'll be good. 'Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth' is a fine coming-of-age novel set in Australia in 1986, narrated by a 16-year-old girl named Mina.
That's enough of a challenge by itself, with Bergen more than up to the task, but at the same time this manages to be a compelling crime novel with a touch of magical realism. I have no idea what Andrez Bergen will come up with next, but know I'm looking forward to it. ~ , James Reasoner
'Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth' by Andrez Bergen is due for release in 2014.
The year is 1986. The place is Nede (say it ‘needy’) Australia. Mina Rapace is sixteen. She’s dealing with familiar woes that come with her age – challenges at school, fitting in with her friends, dealing with boys, obsessing over comics and music, clashes with family. We’ve all been there.
That’s the outer layer of the onion that is Mina’s life – just the thin, papery brown top layer.
Let’s peel that off and take a second look. Mina’s music is goth, her comics are vintage and she knows them frighteningly well. Her friendships are toxic, and that includes a rather startling imaginary one. Her mother is dead and her brother is a horrid beast. As for the boys… impossible and abusive relationships are all she knows.
That plump onion still has more layers to scrape through, bringing fresh tears to your eyes as each is revealed. By the time you reach the center of that pungent orb, you’ll discover it’s been rotting from the inside all along.
But, to continue my analogy, onions are a traditional source of strength and healing. Even as Mina copes with her increasingly rotting life, she exhibits a surprising strength in the face of circumstances that would defeat most.
Those of a certain age will enjoy the nostalgic details of the ‘80’s, reminisce with every song reference, and smile at the fashion choices of the day. But you’ll do so while hanging on tight by your fingernails. I had faith in Mina, even when it seemed absurd to hold out hope. She didn’t fail me. In the end, somewhere in the jumble of mixed emotions I was wrestling with, I felt compelled to applaud.
Ice Planet Goth may be a difficult read for delicate sorts, but it’s well worth the journey. I knew by page three that I was in it to the end. I could never resist an onion, truth be told.
As a bonus, fans of Andrez Bergen’s previous novels may recognize some familiar references. One made me grin, and another made me cheer out loud. ~ Lori Alden Holuta, A License to Quill
Most Anticipated Books of 2014:
DEPTH CHARGING ICE PLANET GOTH — Andrez Bergen.
Andrez Bergen is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. His WHO IS KILLING THE GREAT CAPES OF HEROPA? appeared in my 2013 Top 10 books published for the year and I may have already had a sneaky peak at his new one due mid-year.
http://justaguythatlikes2read.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/most-anticipated-books-of-2014_8.html ~ OzNoir, Just A Guy That Likes 2 Read
"Bergen keeps the reader hanging onto the reality of it all, even if at times it is impossible... he manages to take me back to the '80s, where the music was better and the fashions of the day were fun — but the feelings of Mina and her other characters are not to be missed either. There is more than an element of Alice in Wonderland to this story, and I found it one that I couldn’t help but keep picking up to find out what would happen next." ~ , The British Fantasy Society
"Somewhat of a perfect storm for Andrez Bergen... [that] has this Christopher Nolan puzzle-like quality to it. It's a coming-of-age novel seen through the eyes of a tormented child trying to become an adult. It's whimsical enough not to be melodramatic and it's serious and cohesive enough to keep readers under." ~ Benoit Lelievre, Dead End Follies
"From Goth coming-of-age to violently gothic, Andrez wanted his own style mixed with a bit of Edgar Allan Poe and he got the recipe spot on." ~ Ani Johnson, The Bookbag
"Just finished 'Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth' by Andrez Bergen. Great, wild, heartfelt, heartbreaking, wonderful novel. Endlessly creative." ~ Josh Stallings, Author, 'Beautiful, Naked & Dead'
"A fascinating and quirky character... There's a lot to like about Planet Goth." ~ , The Cult Den
"A trippy little book about teenage rage and righteousness. Think cult classic film 'Heathers' with a healthy heap of 'Alice in Wonderland', and you've got the idea." ~ Lori Hettler, The Next Best Book Club
"I have to say that this book definitely did jump out at me from the pack. I read the sample on Amazon and whacked the upcoming paperback on my Amazon Wish List. Love the cover art, by the way!" ~ , Little Gothic Horrors
"I was totally blown away... his best tale to date." ~ Shawn Vogt , Weird and Wonderful Reads
"Andrez Bergen introduces us to his most remarkable character to date in a dark, gothic tale — truly fabulous storytelling, and to my mind the author's best." ~ Katy O'Dowd, In Glorious Technicolor
"Clever allusions to the conflict between fantasy and reality at play." ~ Emmet O'Cuana, The Momus Report
"If you’ve read any of his previous work you’ll know what a magpie eye Andrez has, with influences ranging from Soviet propaganda to Dashiell Hammett to Charles Dickens." ~ Eva Dolan, Loitering With Intent
"An equally compelling study of character driving an investigative narrative." ~ Marcus Baumgart, The Ink Shot
"Bergen knows his comics and how to craft an entertaining mystery." ~ Patrick Curley, Silver Age Comics
"In a modern age of conspiracies and corporate agglomerates, I think Raymond Chandler would be pleased as to where [Andrez] Bergen has taken his legacy." ~ , Zouch Magazine
"Bergen creates some of the most wildly imaginative places you will ever encounter in fiction." ~ Chris Rhatigan, Death By Killing
"Vivid imagery delivered in a lucid, dreamlike narrative. This is an enthralling tale of survival, endurance and growing up that sinks its claws deep." ~ , OzNoir
"Troubled Mina may be, but not all the troubles exist inside her head. A must read with a twist that slapped me right in the face — we have a winner here." ~ John Kowalski, Word Of The Nerd
"One fine, coming‐of‐age novel set in Australia in 1986 that at the same time manages to be a compelling crime novel with a touch of magical realism." ~ James Reasoner, Author, 'Dancing With Dead Men'
"An awesome novel. I loved it!" ~ David Walden, Nerd Culture Podcast
"I love a book that I've got to think about and there are layers here I need to revisit. Bergen makes the story intriguing and, as with Hansel and Gretel, there are many breadcrumbs to follow. This author has a style all his own, giving the text a different sound — perky, quirky — from other writers, and that was one very clever ending. Need I say that I love it?" ~ Fiona Johnson, I Meant To Read That
"I felt tugged off my feet and dragged on some wonderfully subversive magic carpet ride." ~ , Impact Magazine
"Marked by a surreal quality reminiscent of Haruki Murakami — here far more brutal — Bergen's additional eye for detailing the mid '80s world, set in a city named Nede, is a stunning journey." ~ , The Pulp Braggart
"A brutally honest look at teenaged life in the 80s. There’s a lot at work in this story: loss, love, and more than a smidgeon of lunacy, making 'Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth' one of the most refreshing reads of 2014." ~ Nicole Rodrigues, Dork Shelf
"There's so much going on that this isn't the sort of novel you only read the once." ~ , The Bookbag
"Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth may be a difficult read for delicate sorts, but I knew by page three that I was in it to the end... I had faith in Mina, even when it seemed absurd to hold out hope. She didn’t fail me. Somewhere in the jumble of mixed emotions I was wrestling with, I felt compelled to applaud." ~ , A License to Quill
"Picture 'Dogs in Space' banging heads with 'This Boy's Life' in the back seat of a classic roadster — one erratically handled by Jimmy Stewart's best friend Harvey. A riveting ride taking unexpected curves." ~ , Catachresis & Co.
"Reminded me of 'Heathers' — filtered through the many years since I watched it — with a touch of 'Fight Club'. The most wildly inventive teenage-girl-grows-up book you're likely to read." ~ John Rickards, The Nameless Horror
"My new favorite Bergen novel... The Catcher in the Rye from a female perspective? So many great things to say about this book. Definitely for book lovers looking for a new style of literature to soak in." ~ Jazmyn Mares, Goodreads
"Surprisingly up my alley, at least half-way through when the story takes that substantial turn into the crime/mystery arena. A very solid tale, meaningful and entertaining." ~ Phillip Calvert, The Crime Solution