Cold by Jim Pearce

February 10, 2023

The near future is a world in which scientists and their AI got it wrong.

Rising temperatures have caused fires that burned landmasses, and the ash from these fires block out the sun. The resulting cold is extreme, like a nuclear winter, and was a mass extinction event for human beings the world over. Electricity grids, communications and services all failed. Societies collapsed. Humanity is reduced to small groups of survivors, scraping by however they can.

Resources are scarce, and bands of survivors resort to violence to obtain enough food and fuel to survive.

A man and his family group have survived the cruel winter by hiding in a house in Surrey, but when a roaming gang starts to ravage the area, they are forced to run. As they flee to safety, the cohesion and tolerance that had kept them going for so long starts to fracture…

It’s time once again to dip my toes into the waters of apocalyptic fiction. Regular visitors to the site will know I am obsessive when it comes to extinction-level events. I’m drawn to novels that describe our end. I can’t help myself. I find that not only does apocalyptic fiction offer an endlessly fascinating insight into the human condition, it also manages to be surprisingly educational. For example, recently I learned the term Anthropocene epoch. This is an unofficial unit of geologic time, used to describe the most recent period in Earth’s history when human activity has started to have a significant impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems. Jim Pearce uses this theory as the jumping-off point for his new novel Cold.

At its core, Cold explores some of the most personal questions when it comes to the end of the world. What would you be prepared to do for your family? How far would you be willing to go? Would you be prepared to do absolutely anything to keep them alive? Could you take another person’s life? These are the sorts of moral dilemmas that wake me in the wee, small hours of the morning. So of course I was enthralled.

As ever, when I’m reading novels in my favourite sub-genre, I’m always on the lookout for the tiniest spark of hope. I’m comforted by the thought that though I’ll be long gone*, in this instance most likely a human popsicle, the best part of humanity might survive. I love the idea that if we are given a second chance then maybe, just maybe, we can do a better job than we have done the first time around.

My only criticism, I’d have preferred it if the novel was a little bit longer. It’s a minor quibble, but when I’m enjoying a story I always want more. I like my characters to have the opportunity to breathe. What can I say? I’m a sucker for wanting to know what happens next. Overall I enjoyed Cold. It’s a solidly entertaining story that reminded me of the classic near-futuristic survival thriller The Day After Tomorrow with just a dash of The Grey thrown in for good measure.

Cold is published by Matador and is available now.

The soundtrack I’ve chosen to accompany this novel is from the 2015 film Extinction by Sergio Moure. The movie has a distinctly wintery vibe and it feels like a good fit with the novel.

*A couple of medical conditions that require daily doses of drugs in tandem with no obvious survival skills means I’d be dead within minutes. If I was really lucky it would be a week at best.



  • Jim Pearce March 13, 2023 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks for the review – much appreciated

  • russell1200 March 13, 2023 at 5:31 pm

    Lots of betrayal in this one. With the betrayals being all somewhat ambiguous in the end. Which is how betrayal often works in real life, but it didn’t really fit with the general tone of the story. I think I am agreeing with you when I say that I feel that the ending was a bit rushed, and maybe a little too cute in how it was resolved at the end.

  • Rob September 6, 2023 at 2:26 am

    Fantastic book with some deeply disturbing insights into the reality of climate change

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