Book Reviews

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

I picked up this book only because I loved Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush Hush series. I must say I had a lovely surprise! A suspense, thriller, hike through the woods, serial killer on the loose, a mystery to decipher and a hot guy who might or might not be the killer. WOW!

It started off well – a murder and the young victim was a socialite who was just about to go to college. The killer is only described as taking pictures of her and wearing a Stetson Hat.
One year later, we see two girls, who’ve been friends since childhood, preparing to go trekking in the mountains during the winter season. They have heard some rumors that girls have disappeared mysteriously in that area before and there was some heavy snow pouring down, but they hoped they would reach Calvin – Korbie’s brother at the cabin before it got too bad.

The main character is named Britt, a young girl – a bit spoiled and a bit sheltered – not having lived the though life. She does not even fill her own car with petrol and she is used to having her dad or her brother do things for her. Korbie is her best friend from childhood, they have this girl bickering going on for most of the trip and Britt knows that Korbie has been keeping a list in her diary of how she scores better than her bestie on a point by point basis. Normal teenage rivalry.

Let’s get something perfectly clear, if your best friend is constantly putting you down to make themselves feel better, if your best friend lies to you and doesn’t tell you when she knows your boyfriend is cheating on you (I don’t care if your boyfriend happens to be her brother), if your best friend does all of these things then you know what? She is NOT your friend. In fact, you’d be better off considering her an enemy and finding someone new to hang out with. If, after all that, you decide to stick with her then I hate to say it but you deserve everything you get! Britt herself makes all these observations about her friendship with Korbie and yet she still chooses to follow along in her friend’s shadow for lord only knows what reasons. If possible Korbie is even more shallow, spoilt and stupid than Britt and trust me that really is saying something.

Calvin is Korbie’s brother, a bit older and already going to college (Stanford). He was a bit of a rebel and had a dysfunctional relationship with his father. Britt fell head over heels in love with him and they were together until he dumped her unceremoniously before prom. She’s trying to get over him so when they meet at the gas station, she uses a stranger she just met to pose as her new boyfriend. The guy plays along and dishes out some information that makes Britt think that he’s either very observant or he knows her from before.

So back to the main story:
Britt has been planning a back packing week with Korbie for months (although how spending a week in an expensive cabin and going on daily hikes counts as back packing I’ll never know!) and says she is prepared for anything but as they are driving up the mountain they are caught in an unexpected storm that reduces visibility and makes driving dangerous.

Does our heroine pull over and stop like a sensible person? No, she lets Korbie goad her into continuing to drive in dangerous conditions, on a mountain no less, when she can’t see more than two feet in front of her. When the torrential rain turns to snow and they are eventually forced to stop at the side of the road they just start making even stupider decisions. What do you do when you’re trapped in your car in a major snow storm? Bear in mind that you have a car full of camping equipment, clothes and food that will keep you warm and fed until the storm has passed or help arrives. You have also driven hours into an isolated mountain range and have no clue where you are or if there are any cabins nearby. You can’t see any lights in the distance, the snow is already deep and you have no compass or way of getting back to the car if you get lost. So which option do you choose – stay in the semi warm, and definitely dry, car or head out into the great unknown with no idea if you’ll be able to find help or just end up turning into a human snowman? Yes, I think it’s fair to say that our moronic main characters choose to wander aimlessly just in case they can find help. Yes, my eyeballs did hurt from rolling around inside my head by this point.

Miracle of miracles they actually manage to find a cabin after walking through the snow for over an hour. The cabin is occupied by two hot guys (because obviously our plucky heroines wouldn’t trust them if they were ugly!) so no matter what kind of creepy vibes they are giving off Britt and Korbie not only waltz straight in like they own the place, they also start bickering over who gets to call dibs on each guy. Trust me if the author had had “bad guys in here” in skywriting across the top of the cabin it still couldn’t have been more obvious that something terrible was about to happen! I’m not even going to pretend to forgive Korbie for wanting to cheat on the boyfriend who is supposed to be spending the week with them – especially when she justifies it by saying:

“So we aren’t forever. What’s the point of being completely loyal when I know our relationship is going to end?”

… what’s the point in being in a relationship when you’re happy to cheat on your partner? Britt is no better…

“I tapped my cup to his, grateful to have found Shaun, because for a minute there, I’d thought I was going to have to save myself. Instead, I’d wandered into the protective care of a sexy older man. .

Things start getting funky when they notice that the cabin wasn’t stocked even though the guys said they just got there and they did not seem to know their way around the place… When Korbie refuses to eat the gritty beans they found in one of the cupboards, tension piles up and one of the guys pulls a gun out and takes control of the situation. The girls are now hostages and Britt is told to get them off the mountain with the provisions they have in their car or face death. She invents this story that Korbie suffers from Diabetes and Mason (the same hot guy she met at the petrol station) who is one of the kidnappers, helps her out and makes sure Korbie stays behind in the cabin.

They start hiking through the mountains, during a snow storm, through thick snow, just the three of them.

This is when the book starts getting really good. The survival tips strewn across it reminded me of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. The book should have been called “What to do if you are with kidnappers in a snow storm”. This is when Britt toughens up and starts acting like a strong and independent woman that she is. But she has one weak spot: Mason. She is slowly falling for him (Stockholm syndrom much?).
I found it incredibly hard to accept that Britt was falling for Mason who had got to be the shadiest person ever in existence.

What if he did die? He didn’t deserve that. The idea of him gone forever slashed me to pieces. I had questions, so many questions, and now I might never get answers. I couldn’t believe this might be the end to our story.

WOMAN. He freaking kidnapped you and he won’t reveal anything about his true self. ARE YOU MAD? LEMME ANSWER THAT FOR YOU: YES YOU ARE.

She is trying to keep her mind busy with her days with her ex-boyfriend, Calvin. Now Calvin is a whole other dish.

“When Calvin had first started showing an interest in me, he showered me compliments, teased me affectionately, and made little excuses to see me, all of which were flattering, but the biggest clue that he liked me was his sudden interest in taking care of me.”

There are hints from the past that he might not have been the perfect match for Britt. Like the fact they kept their relationship a secret for 6 whole months. From his sister, from his mates, from everyone. His father hits him constantly and tells him he’s worthless and even pays for him to get into Standford. But he’s smart so he aces his SAT’s and his GCSE’s and he gets into Standford by himself! He breaks it off with Britt before her prom, leaving her with a bought dress.

The romance  with Mason developed way too quickly once it hit (about 60% into the book WHAM) –and the second it did Mason was suddenly crazy about Brit which annoyed me, I think I would have liked better if they never got together. I didn’t like how gullible Brit was in her flashbacks (taste thing, I don’t like super naïve characters who get bullied and don’t see what is right in front of their faces), but I will say the hints for the villain were there all along and while I thought this book was one thing it turned out to be another.

The villain, once I read the clues instead of paying attention to the scenery, was a super obvious twist, but I was so in love with the journey of survival to notice until the villain shot a guy. Then I saw all the pieces come into play.

It was a twist, I’ll give u that, and I was willing to forgive even if obvious because there were only so many characters it could be –but then the MC got stupid and ran straight back to the villain and -oh yeah (insert sarcasm): villains totally pour wax to torture a hot love interest (Really, bro? wax? No villain would use wax when they could use a knife to get answers faster) and then –my favorite part (again sarcasm): confess to the whole crime loudly in room after sending MC to go get something and bring back (like why wouldn’t he stop talking when he thinks she’s coming back –she didn’t just stay behind, she really left to get rope and returned and he was STILL talking, conveniently confessing crime). I was extremely disappointed how lame that was.
This story was way too PG in the way the ending played out, a shame since the first half was a solid thriller-survival-feel. Did I feel anything at all for love interest? Unfortunately like Patch in Hush, Hush he did nothing for me (but he WAS better than Patch, just not someone I would name a book boyfriend).

So would I rec this book for romance? No.
Would I recommend for someone in mood for survival story? Yes.

Overall rating: Best winter read in front of a warm fire, 4/5

Bonus excerpt

“When was the last time you were kissed?” he went on easily. “And I’m not talking about the dry, noncommittal, meaningless kiss you forget about as soon as it’s over.”

I scrambled out of my stupor long enough to quip, “Like last night’s kiss?”

He cocked an eyebrow. “That so? I wonder, then, why you moaned my name after you drifted to sleep.”

“I did not!”

“If only I’d had a video recorder. When was the last time you were really kissed?” he repeated.

“You seriously think I’m going to tell you?”

“Your ex?” he guessed.

“And if he was?”

“Was it your ex who taught you to be ashamed and uncomfortable with intimacy? He took from you what he wanted, but never seemed to be around when you wanted something back, isn’t that right? What do you want, Britt?” he asked me point-blank.
“Do you really want to pretend like last night never happened?”

“Whatever happened between me and Calvin isn’t your business,” I fired back.

“For your information, he was a really great boyfriend. I-I wish I was with him right now!” I exclaimed untruthfully. My careless comment made him flinch, but he recovered quickly.

“Does he love you?”

“What?” I said, flustered.

“If you know him so well, it shouldn’t be a hard question. Is he in love with you? Was he ever in love with you?”

I tossed my head back haughtily. “I know what you’re doing. You’re trying to cut him down because you’re-you’re jealous of him!”

“You’re damn right I’m jealous,” he growled. “When I kiss a girl, I like to know she’s thinking about me, not the fool who gave her up.”