Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick, paperback novel, 392 pages, published by Simon & Schuster in 2014.
Britt Pfeiffer has convinced her best friend, Korbie, to backpack through the Teton Ranges in Wyoming for the spring break of their final year of high school. The girls have very little experience hiking through the ranges, but Korbie’s parents’ own a large cabin on the shores of a lake in the mountains, which they can use as a base for their adventure. The weather turns foul as they journey up the mountain, forcing them to abandon their vehicle and seek shelter from the driving snow. Sodden and fatigued they find salvation in a small cabin in the forest, where two young men are also waiting out the storm. For two pretty and exuberant girls, it should be fun to shack up with two handsome lads like Mason and Shaun for the night, but the boys have plans, and the girls are at their mercy. Britt finds herself fighting her way down the mountain through the dark and swirling storm, surrounded by dangers both environmental and human.
Elements of adventure, mystery, suspense, and romance are intertwined in this captivating young adult novel. Black Ice was a sled ride through the mountains, full of twists and dark turns, that kept me guessing. There were some well written action sequences, with plenty of teenage deliberation and introspection, and some non-graphic romantic scenes. It was an exciting read with palpable tension, that I blew through quickly as I needed to know what happened next.
The characters were all rather bratty and entitled, and I greatly disliked Korbie and her brother, Calvin. It seemed incongruous that Britt would be friends with Korbie, but they had been friends for a long time and it is often hard to let those relationships go. I liked the way that Britt developed as a character through the story. From reliance on the men in her life while taking them for granted, she grows to be a more resourceful, strong and independent leading lady. This traumatic experience strengthens rather than unravels her, always good for a female protagonist. Mason was a very complicated, yet intriguing character which many moods and secrets. He could have gone either way for most of the book, while Shaun was obviously derailed and dangerous. The shallowness and selfishness of several of the characters served to highlight the complexity and intensity of Britt and Mason.
Being a young adult novel, plenty of teenage issues were touched upon, relationships, first love, kissing, physical and emotional insecurities. This helps to shape the novel into something that teenagers can relate to, and it seems to be endemic in this genre. While the sexual elements of this book were quite tame, there was violence and death that may disturb more innocent or immature readers.
Black Ice is most suitable for middle to upper high school students and beyond.