Adolescent Ice Cream Star does not grow up in comfortable surroundings: her world is populated by children only. A mysterious disease wiped out all the grown-ups, children never reach adulthood. This society of juveniles embroiders on ideas and images from a past long gone, having been interpreted in strange ways. Communities have grown during the years; Ice Cream Star belongs to a traveller hunting group. They live close to the Christians (who have a very peculiar interpretation of old and new testament) and the warriors. The groups have strict rules, one of which is ‘we do not mingle’. Being head over heels in love with the leading warrior leaves Ice Cream Star quite understandably confused. The arrival of a grown-up, a Roo, and a radio message sent by Roo’s changes life drastically. The Roo’s apparently have a cure and Ice Cream Star is determined to get hold of it in order to save her dying brother’s life. A strain of events resulting from her decision to search for the cure makes clear that the effect of the disease has been downright disastrous. Mankind has become its worst. The Roo’s (short for Russians) who possess the cure abuse it to conquer the world. They spend their time robbing and fighting, enslaving the children they encounter. Personal gain is the only thing that matters, the cure is not given away for the sake of charity or kindness.
Towards the end of the novel it becomes apparent that Ice Cream Star is no match for the adult Russians. She is just an adolescent trying her best. Endearing one moment, bloody annoying next, Ice Cream decides things without thinking twice, she is extremely single minded and is not capable of balancing several options. Her circumstances make you forget that she is only 15 years of age and has seen too many people die in her short life.
I liked the idea of The Country of Ice Cream Star, including the weird way the English language developed. What will happen in a society that consists of children only, what effect does disaster have on mankind? The novel unfortunately is not worked out consistently and lacks balance. Battles take over and I found it hard to keep track of who was fighting who. I was captivated at first by Ice Cream Star’s fascinating world but lost interest when her world turned into a war zone dictated by personal gain. I would have liked it if Newman had spent more time on the development of Ice Cream Star, who gets dragged into this cruel adult world. The girl would have deserved this attention. A promising novel about a grim future peters out into a mere war novel, thereby not fulfilling its promise.