Audiobook review: Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood
Jumping back and forth to a few different times in Hannah’s life, Below Zero shares how she is trapped in a frozen crevasse with little hope for rescue in present day, her first day and days leading up to present at NASA, and her time in grad school when she first meets her current day best friends and Ian. Over the course of the story, we learn what drives Hannah and her research, how she formed connections with her friends, and how Ian fits into her life.
Like with the previous novellas in the series, the author uses flashbacks along side present day to help tell the story. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was quite as affective this time around. At one point there was a flashback within a flashback, and I found myself trying to keep straight the different scenes and how they connected.
With that said, I really liked Hannah. I love that she was a screw-up growing up, and that even after she got her act together, she had to work her butt off. School wasn’t easy; she isn’t naturally brilliant. This makes her more relatable. I also love how easy things are with Ian the first time they meet; how he makes her question the emotional distance she always carries around herself like a cloak. I adore how clueless Ian is, and how badly he wants Hannah. I also love the science; however, when Hannah and Ian first meet there is a lot of scientific talk. I found my eyes starting to glaze over, and it felt like the story wasn’t moving forward.
Narration: As with the previous titles in the series, the story is shared via the first person POV of the main female character (Hannah). Ms. Peachwood has a light, almost breathy female voice, which works well for Hannah who is slightly introverted and quiet. Ms. Peachwood effectively adds emotion into the performance, changing pitch and tone to express anger, frustration, or happiness and joy. She changes up her voices slightly for dialogue. There isn’t a lot of differences between characters of the same gender, but it works, although when all three of the main characters are together, I had troubles telling who was who at times. Her males, most notably Ian, are only slightly deeper, but not overly deep and gravely. Ian is soft, suitable for his introverted nature.
In the end, Below Zero is an entertaining story. I loved seeing Hannah, Mara, and Saddie all together, and would have loved to see more of that. The couple is cute; I like that they hit it off immediately, and that Ian never gives up on Hannah. I’d love for the author to revisit the women and their loves down the road, so I can see where they all end up.
About the Book:
It will take the frosty terrain of the Arctic to show these rival scientists that their chemistry burns hot.
Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn…
Hannah’s got a bad feeling about this. Not only has the NASA aerospace engineer found herself injured and stranded at a remote Arctic research station—but the one person willing to undertake the hazardous rescue mission is her longtime rival.
Ian has been many things to Hannah: the villain who tried to veto her expedition and ruin her career, the man who stars in her most deliciously lurid dreams…but he’s never played the hero. So why is he risking everything to be here? And why does his presence seem just as dangerous to her heart as the coming snowstorm?
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Narrator: Savannah Peachwood
Series: The STEMinist novellas #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance, novella
Audiobook Release Date: April 5, 2022
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Length: 3 hrs and 43 mins
Audio Speed: 1.25x
Audible/Amazon (affilate link)