Simon & Schuster UK
Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster AUS
It’s spring break and instead of going off to the beaches of Hawaii, Britt Phieffer wants to go backpacking through the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming. Her friend Korbie’s family has a cabin up there but what Korbie doesn’t know is that Britt plans to spend most of the break out in the mountains, not in the luxury of the cabin. They have all their gear packed into Britt’s Wrangler and they’re ready to head out when Britt finds out that Korbie’s parents have sent her older brother Calvin along as chaperone. Calvin is also Britt’s ex-boyfriend and the two haven’t seen each other since he left for Stanford over 8 months ago.
All Britt’s planning doesn’t take into account a freak storm and with the car stranded she and Korbie have to trek to safety. They find a cabin and seek shelter with the occupants, two young guys. However it doesn’t take long for Britt to realise that they’ve stumbled into more danger than if they’d taken their chances staying by the car. Shaun and the mysterious Mason are clearly here for reasons other than nature and now they need Britt and her knowledge (most of which is faked) to guide them down off the mountain to the highway so they can disappear.
What started off as a holiday has now become a deadly game of cat and mouse. Britt needs to get them safely down the mountain or she suspects that they’ll kill her. And once she gets them down the mountain, they’ll have no further use for her either so she has to think on her feet and do her best to stay alive. First she just has to figure out who she can trust.
This is the first Becca Fitzpatrick novel I’ve read and I have to admit, I did have some feelings of trepidation going in because her previous Hush Hush series was definitely not for me. However this book is quite different to those and the more I got into it, the more I enjoyed the careful crafting of the setting and the building of suspense.
Britt is seventeen and has been planning her spring break backpacking/camping trip for weeks. She’s been training and practicing and is now ready to go. She hasn’t said to her friend Korbie, pretending annoyance when Korbie admits that their parents have ordered along Korbie’s older brother Calvin to play watcher, but Britt is secretly pleased. She’s hoping that this trip might rekindle what they used to have, might make Calvin see her in a new light, someone who takes an interest in what he likes. Calvin has been away at Stanford and when Britt sees him again, he’s just as arrogant as ever.
Their trip gets off to a very bad start and they find themselves sheltering in a cabin with two guys in their 20s, Mason and Shaun. Things get even worse when they realise that Shaun and Mason are definitely not the sort of guys you want to be secluded with. Shaun is downright dangerous and although Mason claims that he’s not good either and appears to be working in partnership with Shaun, there are times when he deliberately helps Britt. He could’ve easily trapped her in several lies and ratted her out to Shaun but he chooses to play along, leaving Britt to wonder about him – just who is he really and why is someone like him working with someone as dangerous as Shaun?
Whilst the reader is able to easily decode the mysteries of Mason and also figure out precisely who it is that Britt shouldn’t trust, the author does a great job of impairing Britt’s judgement by using the environment and her situation. It’s freezing, snowing hard and Britt is pretty sure that no matter how things play out, Shaun is going to kill her. Her best chance of survival does lie with Mason, if she can bring herself to trust him. But Mason makes that difficult by continually keeping her at arm’s length sometimes and others, attempting to prove to her that he will be her best chance of help. Mason’s situation is a difficult one and Britt isn’t sure whether or not she’s succumbed to a form of Stockholm Syndrome or if she’s being played by a master.
Britt isn’t a particularly likable character and her friend Korbie is absolutely hideous. Rich, spoiled and arrogant, Korbie seems more a toxic friend than best friend and I question how their friendship endured for so long. During this book she’s so horrid to Britt and she’s basically useless it seems like Britt is kind of using her as a way to ensure that Calvin comes along on the trip. However over the course of the book, Britt does begin to change – she could easily give into hysterics but instead she becomes determined. She has a map that means she can get them down off the mountain, which she keeps to herself and instead she begins implementing her own plan. Hopefully one that will guide her to safety. It does get complicated and she does get swayed along the way, dithering back and forth on who she can trust but I could understand her internal conflict. She wants to trust Mason, but he doesn’t always appear to be trustworthy. The suspense here is actually built very well and the last 100p kept me on the edge of my seat.
I enjoyed this – particularly the setting. I’ve never even really seen snow but I love reading about blizzards and what it must be like to be either snowed in or caught out in that sort of weather. I think the pacing was great and Britt’s character development definitely worked for me.
Book #210 of 2014