So far I have read all of Becca’s work (the Hush, Hush series) and absolutely love her work. She is one of the reasons I actually started writing prose fiction myself, so I always feel especially excited when I hear she’s got another writing project lined up.
Black Ice follows the story of Britt and her friend Korbie as they set out to backpack the mountains of Wyoming during Spring Break. As they set off to make the drive up the mountain, the wintry weather takes a turn for the worst and they are forced to seek shelter in a cabin. There, they come across Shawn and Mason, two mysterious young men. Throughout the novel, their true intentions become clear, and Britt must rely only on herself to make it down the mountain safely and away from any danger. Along the way, friendships and relationships are tested, and Britt becomes more and more uncertain of who she can trust.
I found Becca’s new book to be a worthy successor to her first series. The characters were appealing and authentic, and the mystery element of the novel really lends itself well to the character development throughout. One of the great things about Britt is that she starts out spoiled and dependent, and through a series of events becomes more self-reliant and humble. One of her flaws is that she depends very heavily on the men in her life: her dad, her older brother, Ian, and her ex-boyfriend, Calvin. As a result of going through some pretty trying ordeals on the mountain, she is forced to rely on herself for survival, and this allows her to overcome her tendency to depend on others. I like the kind of feminist twist to this novel. As the narrative develops, we discover that several girls were killed previously for their intellectual success, and Britt ends up being a poster-girl for the reality that girls can and should succeed.
As for the men in the book, one of the things I love about Becca’s male love interests is that they are never not mysterious. Mason is dark and brooding and confusing to say the least, but that’s all part of the intrigue. I particularly enjoyed riding out the story to the end just to find out what Mason’s story really was. He’s one of those characters that just hooks you as a reader, which made it interesting to gradually watch his story unfold alongside Britt’s. But I liked that he didn’t overshadow Britt’s heroine status. Rather than swooping in to save the day, he complimented her character, and helped bring out her inner strength. If you ask me, that’s the best kind of fictional relationship any reader can ask for.
If there’s one thing Becca always seems to execute flawlessly, it’s language. I love her use of description. She seems to say a lot with a small amount of words, which takes skill. Concise descriptions can sometimes mean the setting lacks something, or just sounds sparse, but Becca’s technique really works. Her language is punchy and effective, and makes for a much more exciting read.
Sometimes, though, I felt that characters were just explaining things for the sake of getting details across to the reader. I suppose that could have used a little more finesse, but it’s a very small critique. Becca’s narratives are always really well laid out, and the reader is never left with questions after turning the last page.
It’s clearly aimed at a young adult audience, but I wouldn’t limit the readership to just that demographic. Becca’s novels are the kind you can return to when you’re older, like your favourite Disney movies which bring back a rush of nostalgic pleasure. I will continue to return to Becca’s novels even though I’m in my early twenties, because I can still recall my very first reading experience and I will always want to relive that. Her books are my guilty pleasure. Or maybe not so guilty. Just a pleasure.
In terms of genre, Black Ice continues Becca’s talent for constructing complex and thrilling mysteries. Unlike her Hush, Hush series, this one doesn’t include any supernatural/fantastical elements. Instead it focuses more on the human traits of the characters, and explores the psychical and emotional strains of a pretty traumatic kidnapping ordeal. I enjoyed the fast-paced narrative with all its unexpected twists and turns which are quickly becoming Becca’s speciality. She certainly has a skill for writing first-class novels, and I’m eager to see what she has in store for her readers next.
Overall, Black Ice is the perfect December read. I’ve read it several times during the year, but it’s perfect to curl up with under a fluffy blanket with a steaming cup of tea and some chocolate on hand. It’s indulgent, heart-warming, and promises an ending which is guaranteed to leave a smile on your face long after you’ve finished the last page.
January Book Review: Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick