Black Ice is the kind of book that makes me glad I don’t live in the wilderness of mid-west American mountain ranges that are filled with wolverines, sudden blizzards and gun toting (but sexy) murderers. A new Young Adult novel from Becca Fitzpatrick, Black Ice has potential with its slick writing style and suspense charged plot.
I’m in two minds about this book… There’s definitely suspense and drama, but a blizzard of cliches and plot holes cause it to be as obscured as the mountain that gets covered by the snowstorm that strands our heroine, Britt Pfieffer, with two killers.
Britt and Korbie are two girls as basic and cliched as their fluffy names. Instead of choosing a summer break of hot sand on Hawaii, they decide to “backpack” the mountain range with Korbie’s boyfriend, Bear, and her brother and Britt’s ex, Calvin. Britt has a redeeming feature of actually planning this holiday correctly and has been training for months so she has hiking and survival knowledge, plus a few great maps and a truck full of food. Her basic friend Korbie intends to stay in the luxury cabin her family owns with pay TV and hike the distance between couch and fridge.
On the day of their travel, Britt is filling her car with petrol when she bumps into Calvin The Ex-Boyfriend. Britt’s so over him she invents a fake new boyfriend, and is saved from humiliation by a hot stranger, Mason, who goes along with the ruse. Britt and Korbie drive up the mountain when the weather suddenly changes from fine to blizzard. Unable to drive any further, the girls decide to walk, in 3 foot deep snow, at 10pm, on the off chance that they find a cabin (and I say this here, THEY TAKE NO SUPPLIES. A whole car full of food and warm clothes and the best they manage is coats. They don’t even take a Mars Bar… So much for survival training but hey, the plot called for sudden stupidity). Surprise, surprise, they find a cabin and who should be waiting out the storm inside… Mason, and a friend, Shaun, who is also good looking and charming.
The girls flirt, they hang out, but things seem weird. For two guys on a ski trip they have no gear, no skis and no food in their family cabin… A sudden change in their new friend’s manner puts them on edge. Then, they are kidnapped and held hostage. Mason and Shaun are cold-blooded killers, Shaun is possibly the man behind some notorious killings that had occurred in the mountains and Britt makes a horrifying discovery in the cabin’s back room. Now Britt must fight for her life as she is forced to lead the men off the mountain so they can escape the police who are hunting them.
Like I said, there are redeeming moments in Black Ice – the writing is nice, there is a healthy dose of suspense, Britt shows some interesting character development. However, there was so much that got on my nerves as a reader who likes to pay attention to plot and common sense. Firstly, the character of Britt takes a long, long time to get anywhere. She’s very spoilt, very basic. I kept waiting for her and Korbie to complain about having no Pumpkin Spice Lattes on the mountain. They were not the independent heroines who save the world, they are very shallow girls who find themselves in a serious danger of death, frostbite, getting lost, and being murdered. But instead they decide to flirt, banter and cosy up with two complete strangers they met on the mountain, instead of exercising deep caution.
And then, to top it off, there’s a love triangle! Britt’s not sure if she should try to get back with Calvin, the guy who broke her heart but who she is still relying on to save the day and find her and Korbie; and at the same time she’s starting to find Mason sexy, attractive, maybe he’s just a good guy mixed up in some bad stuff and would make the perfect (prison) boyfriend…
It takes a long time and a lot of red herrings to get anywhere close to the promised suspense and reveal of the real killer… I found the plot twist a bit hard to believe, but hey I’d come that far in the book I had no choice but to see it through. Then, the pace suddenly picks up and the story is really well written, as it finally shows Britt’s character development and has some very gripping action (but a terrible motive for murder, I can’t even!) that definitely keeps the pages turning. Fortunately, Britt changes so much and the epilogue shows it has made a true impact on her as a person and she is left far stronger for having survived her ordeal.
All in all, not the smartest thriller I’ve ever read, but Black Ice has potential as an easy summer beach read. It could also be good for a book club as it’s a very polarising book, you’ll either love it or hate it.
Black Ice will be available in-store and online on October 7th.