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The Country of Ice Cream Star

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  2,567 ratings  ·  646 reviews
In the aftermath of a devastating plague, a fearless young heroine embarks on a dangerous and surprising journey to save her world in this brilliantly inventive thriller

In the ruins of a future America, fifteen-year-old Ice Cream Star and her nomadic tribe live off the detritus of a crumbled civilization. Theirs is a world of children; before reaching the age of twenty, th
Hardcover, 592 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by Ecco (first published November 10th 2014)
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Gail I'm surprised at how many people found the language difficult -- I loved it, and stopped thinking about it within a few pages. Perhaps the key is not …moreI'm surprised at how many people found the language difficult -- I loved it, and stopped thinking about it within a few pages. Perhaps the key is not trying to translate it into your own dialect. Just let it wash over you. Like learning any language, you can't necessarily translate every word into your own English, but you learn the sense of them from their sound, from where they sit in a sentence.(less)
Jessica The vernacular took a little getting used to, but it's worth it. The ending is beautiful.…moreThe vernacular took a little getting used to, but it's worth it. The ending is beautiful.(less)

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Feb 13, 2015 marked it as i-started-something-i-couldn-t-fini
I hate giving up on books.

I made it through the first part of the book, a little over 200 pages and I’m going to call it quits.

The linguistic world building is quite impressive here. The book is written in an invented dialect that is very involved. I imagine it was difficult to write and it shows a lot of talent.

Younger Greg would have stuck with this, and probably been more impressed by the technical powers on display. Middle-aged Greg couldn’t stop thinking if his limited time remaining, th
Apr 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been trying to review this book and I am struggling. So I’m going to say first-off: I LOVED IT. Maybe I need to find a better word than “love”. Because it’s not pretty. There’s very little “pretty” here.

The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman is one of those books that dumps you in a world completely foreign to your own, and leaves you to figure it out as the story progresses. That is not to say there isn’t world-building (there is!), it just doesn’t make anything obvious.

I have ne
Read 2/03/15 - 2/12/15
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended to fans of post-pandy fiction. This one's unlike any you've read before.
Pages: 592
Publisher: Ecco Books
Releases: March 2015

It's a great time to be a reader if you're into post-pandemic dystopian literature, isn't it? Lately, it seems as though every author out there's devising new ways to bring about the end of the world. And what I find most interesting about this sub-genre -the post-pandy genre- is the fact that these stories aren't actually
Elaina Duke
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book be wolfen. Kept me up late into the night wondering just how or even IF Ice Cream Star was going to succeed in her quest to save her Sengle people. Also, Pasha Roo! Was I the only one a little in love with him? This story is fantastic - so many twists and turns. The author's commentary on the world's religions as seen through Ice Cream's eyes 100 years in the future makes for terrifying reading. Simply put, this book is beautiful. Lyrical while being cut-throat at the same time. Stunni ...more
Mar 20, 2015 marked it as just-never-finished-it
I can't in good conscience give the book any kind of rating as just couldn't get through it. It takes a lot to offend me, but the "dialect"? I mean, let's just call it what it is: postapocalyptic ebonics written by a white woman. ...more
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Terence by: AV Club review
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Reading The Country of Ice Cream Star (TCICS) I was reminded of two novels. The first is Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker (review). It too depicts a post-apocalyptic world where a young, driven hero journeys from a parochial life into a much larger world and finds himself playing a much larger role than he had dreamed possible. In both books, the heroes retain an essential decency and innate moral resilience despite becoming wiser to how the world works. And both books are written in an invented d ...more
2.5-stars, really.
"This is a bleak and brutal book, but when one encounters a vision of this scale and originality, that must be respected." *
well.. i don't really know what this book is supposed to be doing... or who it's aimed at? not that that matters, probably. i was entertained, to a point. i was impressed, to a point. the use of language was interesting and inventive, and i didn't find it difficult (i have read many reviews where people couldn't get past the language. i recognize it'
Lisa Eckstein
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, read-2015
This book astounded me from the opening sentences, when I discovered the story is written in an invented dialect of English that doesn't yet exist but could after generations of language evolution. (You can read the opening here to see what I'm talking about.) As this ambitious narrative style signals, Newman did serious worldbuilding for her post-apocalyptic novel, and the reader experiences it naturally as the gripping story unfolds.

Ice Cream Star is fifteen years old, so she's one of her comm
Five Stars. All the stars. I cannot overstate how much I loved this book. I got to the end of what, 600 pages? -- and went right back to the start again.

I'd compare it to the raw, youthful voice in Heather O'Neill's books, combined with the innovative writing (though less so) of Eimear MacBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing with a dash of Katniss Everdeen and Cormac MacCarthy and the elements I loved from the first Divergent book.

But better.

Firstly, the writing just worked for me. I am wary of
Feb 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sandra Newman likes, I think, to play with readers. She gives us Ice Cream, one of the best fictional companions ever, and all the conventions and clichés of the dystopian adventure, and then shoots those conventions past normal, past absurd, past transcendence, letting them fall in ashes. This is most noticeable in the silly middle, when Ice Cream unwillingly enacts a makeover fantasy and discovers under it a plot so byzantine she gets bored. (The plot, throughout, is like a mechanical rabbit a ...more
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-read
This was such an interesting book for me. When I first started it, honestly, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to read it the way it was written using the language as spoken by Ice Cream Star and her people. In fact, it ended up giving the book a wonderful texture that I think would have been difficult to achieve otherwise.

The story was interesting and moved in directions I didn't always expect. There was a real emotional depth to the characters and again, they developed in ways that I di
Dec 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I have ever read. I am at a complete loss regarding its total lack of splash. I would give it six stars if I could.

It all started innocently enough when I was browsing through NPR’s end of year “Best Books of 2015” list (Can we all agree that the book round-ups are one of the best things about the end of the year? I mean really, compared to them, who cares about Christmas?). An admission: I totally judge a book by both its cover and title. This book piqued my intere
More reviews @ Bibliosanctum

Full Disclosure: A review copy of this audiobook was provided to me by Blackstone Audio. I would like to thank the author and the publisher for providing me this opportunity. All opinions expressed from here forward are my own.

I couldn't decide between 3.5 stars or 4 stars, so I just settled on 4 stars. I'm going to be 110% honest with you here. This book is not for everyone. The frustration doesn't arise so much from the story itself rather than the language it's wri
I feel really bad about this review, but essentially, I couldn't force myself through the book. The whole book is written in dialect. And while I can appreciate how much effort Newman put into coming up with her own language essentially, I often got lost trying to decipher this language and trying to figure out what was going on in the book, let alone what the characters were saying.

I couldn't figure out if the characters' names were words, places, or if they actually were characters. I was so l
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-fiction, audio
Obsessed with this book right now. Listening to it in the car and reading it on the couch - partly I need both channels in order to discern maximum meaning from the postapocaliptic patois, and partly because said patois is so damn poetic.

Like most postapocalypse narratives, there is an enormous amount of commentary on our contemporary world. Colonialization, exploitation of children for war, religious fundamentalism, and the vulnerability of the peaceable - all are amplified in this unstable env
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And ... I'm spent. What starts out as a difficult but interesting language and fate-of-the-earth thought experiment becomes, by turns, a poetic journey into the depths of human depravity and the heights of human love and compassion, told with the same intelligence and fearlessness the author bestows upon her heroine. Worth persevering with, but not for the faint (feint) of heart. ...more
Horace Derwent
c'est très intéressant, putain!

pain-in-the-assly inter resting, feels like i'm reading Fight Club :D
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve never read anything like it. A 600+ page novel written in an author-invented pigeon English.

The story is set in the post-apocalyptic Nighted States. Ice Cream Star, the teen-age narrator, introduces her tribe in paragraph three of the book:

“We Sengles be a wandering sort. We never grown nothing from anything, never had no tato patch nor cornfield. Be thieves, and brave to hunt. A Sengle hungry even when he eat, even when he rich, he still want to grab and rob, he hungry for something he ain
I looked through the reviews to try to find a black woman's (or any black person's) opinion of this book. I can't believe there are only white women reading & reviewing this (not that I'm helping by adding to them)? It would have been really, really nice to have a diverse opinion and perspective - especially when most of the characters here aren't white.

Book content warnings:
- rape
- sexual harassment
- pedophilia
- slavery
- homophobia

The Country of Ice Cream Star is dystopian-like book about bas
Nov 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman is nothing short of epic, both in narrative scope and literary achievement.

So much of the the joy of Ice Cream Star lies in the act of discovery: of the completely foreign, but not-to-distant future in which it takes place and of the language in which Ice Cream Star, the 15 year old young woman who's the book's narrator, sets down her story. The world Newman creates is original, richly detailed, and compellingly realized, down to the Pidgen English
Feb 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
Wow. This started out as a three-star book and quickly declined into the worst book I've read this year.

It was just such a waste of time.

The first thing you notice about this book is the pidgin English. It's a bit of a challenge, but isn't the reason this wins worst book of the year. You get used to it, kind of, and then you put the book down for the night and it's hard to immerse yourself in the rhythm the next day. You do this for days.

Somewhere around 200 pages, you realize this is just kin
Oct 20, 2015 rated it liked it
I found this book recommended for me because I had read and loved Station Eleven, which is also a post-apocalyptic concept. I didn't find this book to have as much nuance, and since I couldn't help but compare, The Country of Ice Cream Star kind of fell flat for me.

The language was the first barrier. It wasn't too challenging, and was often very poetic, in its way. However, it wasn't the kind of thing that got much easier as you went, and so the reading was slow going. I feel like I spent half o
‘The Country of Ice Cream Star’ has an interesting combination of genre characteristics: the 15-year old first person narration of YA and the experimental linguistic world-building of literary sci-fi. The setting is America long after a pandemic wiped out much of the population, including nearly all white people. Life expectancy now hovers around twenty years thanks to this plague, known formally as WAKS and colloquially as posies. The titular protagonist lives a nomadic life of hunting and scav ...more
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
there is no doubt that sandra newman in a genius. i haven't read her other books, but this one is just mind-blowing. the first mind-blowing thing is the language, that will or will not be challenging to you depending on the kind of mind you have, and on how easily you adapt to different sounds and grammatical constructions (i am not particularly good at either of th0se, so the language remained a bit challenging for me, though only to the extent that it slowed me down a little). regardless of it ...more
Allen Murphey
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the detritus of this generation of post-apocalyptic literature Sandra Newman's The Country of Ice Cream Star stands head, shoulders, and belt buckle above the rest. Ice Cream Star is fourth-oldest among the thirty-some members of the Sengle tribe, living in what once was Massachusetts. In two or three years, after the older members die, she will be responsible in every way for the Sengles. Ice Cream Star is fifteen years old.

In the indistinct past a plague has taken all adults and still claim
Dec 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, dystopia
Oh my goodness I REALLY LIKED THIS! An excellent dystopian novel; one of the best I have read in years (IMHO). Although it takes place with a mainly teenage cast, I wouldn't classify this as purely "young adult". It is quite mature in many of its themes; however, Newman pulls it off with a level of cohesion and sophistication that just floors me.

A word for the wary: this book needs some time to settle into. Newman's narration style reflects a metamorphosized English, addled by generations of chi
Scott Rose
Jun 08, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I don't want to beat a dead horse, but in the spirit of fulfilling my pledge to post a review regarding a book I received as an early copy from Random House Canada, through the Goodreads contest, I will do just that.
As so many others have pointed out, the invented dialect was of the type that I just couldn't get past. I found myself trying so hard to "just get used to it" to no avail. I must have picked this book up and put it down so many times that that should have been my fist sign that it ju

Sometimes I pick up on a book far too late. With the entire wave of dystopian YA already more or less a past thing, I couldn't find any major motivation left in me to drag myself through yet another version of "pwoor US kids on a quest".

Quite frankly, the pidgin language gimmick quickly grated on me. I'm one of those obnoxious people who firmly believe that the less language draws attention to itself - outside poetry and song texts - the better the work is written. When I completely f
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