RaveThe New York Times Book Review... [a] delving, haunted and poetic debut. Giggs is worth reading for her spotlight observations and lyricism alone, but she also has an important message to deliver ... she questions the conventional wisdom that all is well with whales now that conservation campaigns have helped their populations rebound ... her journey is intellectual; she relentlessly follows lines of questioning for marathon distances ... she uses whales as invitations to consider everything else: the selfie-ization of environmentalism, the inherent worth of parasites, Jungian psychoanalysis, solar storms, whale songs records going multiplatinum and so much more. In the cascade of mini-essays that results, Giggs comes off as much as a cultural critic as a naturalist ... All this cogitation is both the overall strength and occasional weakness of the book. For in a work about whales, there are few direct encounters with the awe-inducing leviathans; basically, just the single whale-watching tour and two strandings. This can make certain passages feel like a literary distillation of volumes of scientific papers through which actual lobtailing, rainbow-spouting, aria-ululating whales rarely breach. At times, there was so much analyzing of symbolic whales that I felt bereft of actual ones. But maybe that’s the point. Giggs is extremely sensitive to how our \'tormented love\' of cetaceans can be \'a need to connect, so dire, that it smothers the beloved\'—as when she devastatingly dissects a photo of a mob in Argentina petting a baby dolphin to death.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... fascinating and encyclopedic ... prose so lucid it’s easy to overlook its elegance ... Gertner manages a magic trick, transforming his hybrid book from one of physical to intellectual adventure. For though the Arctic journeys become boring tractor rides and the scientists are, alas, less memorable than the roguish adventurers, the drama of discovery skates the narrative forward ... the book completes its last metamorphosis, from a scientific history into a submission to the ever-growing canon of climate change literature ... But unlike other recent books that have captured the public’s attention with excruciating play-by-plays of how the environmental apocalypse will go down or poetic laments for the ailing natural world, Gertner invests his writerly energies less in describing what is happening to Greenland’s ice than to how we know it ... By the end of the book, his approach appealed to me for several reasons, most notably because it impressed on me like nothing I’ve read before how hard-earned climate change facts are ... This is a book about...Gertner’s obsession. I mean that as a compliment, for despite the book’s composure, it is this wild and viral obsession that is the most compelling thing about it.