Initial reaction: Allow me to direct your attention to part of the blurb that advertises this book and its respective premise:
"Danger is hard to resist in this sexy thriller from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga."
Let me say that quite a bit of this respective blurb is not entirely accurate.
1. Danger is very easy to resist in this book, but you can't tell that to the characters here. In almost "Scary Movie" fashion, if you told the characters whether a knife or a banana would be more effective against an enemy, I would be 100% positive they would choose the banana, based on the actions they take in this book.
2. Unless having sensual relations with the guy who might've killed a girl and kidnapped you floats your boat, this book isn't very sexy at all. But it's okay, he's still cute though. *stares*
3. Thriller? Hahahahaha! Nah, not so much. I wish I could say that this book was anything near thrilling (there were moments it came close though), but ultimately it was all underwhelming because I saw what was going to happen from point A to point B.
Ultimately, I think this was Fitzpatrick's attempt of writing a D-grade horror movie, and at that point it succeeded, but everything else for its appeal? It failed. It failed miserably, and had more than a few offenses to boot. I'm still brainstorming over ways to write this review, so hopefully I can make light of where this book went very, very wrong on several levels.
As life goes on, I know that time will tear us apart,
And take you away.
And when you're gone, I'll wake up with a hand on my heart
And a foot in my grave.
When we were strangers, I would believe
I was walking in my sleep.
We were strangers when I believed
I could wake up from this dream.
- From "Diaries" by The Birthday Massacre
A few general thoughts about this read to start.
First, if I were to give this book a rating just on the audio quality alone, it would be 3-3.5 stars. I think this was the first book I've heard narrated by Jenna Lamia; she did a fine job on her part of things. She gave the narration full emotional emphasis and her voice fit the character well. No complaints there. It was probably that which got me through this often infuriating read.
Second, fitting that I choose those set of lyrics from The Birthday Massacre to start this review, because ultimately this book tells of a tale of a girl who's in love with strangers (symbolically, if you will) - a stranger she just met as well as a stranger whom she thought she knew well.
Both of said love interests, unfortunately, are horrible. Not a single character in this book exists that doesn't make you want to throw the book at them, heroine included. Ultimately, I can deal with unlikable characters being in precarious situations, as long as it's well developed and I can somehow follow the story without it completely throwing itself under the bus. If it weren't so offensive, juvenile, and odd in its transitions, I'd almost feel like "Black Ice" could've been a dark parody of many D-grade horror movies, with romantic leanings. Alas, no such fortune. Instead, it makes me weep that this is supposed to be a book oriented towards the YA reading group, and try to pass itself off as something that's supposed to be romantic and thrilling.
Let's play a game, shall we?
In the event of a "Choose Your Own Adventure"/"Choose Your Fate"/"Choose Your Character" type scenario: you find yourself stranded on a mountain in the middle of a snowstorm. Snow's coming down hard, there's a cabin that you can take refuge in. But this site is the place where a girl has gone missing/drowned while drunk, or possibly has been murdered brutally.
Which of the following characters, in this respective situation, would you rather be? Be careful now - you only get to choose one, and that determines your fate for the remainder of the story.
A. The "intelligent" heroine. You've been told that you can't fend for yourself without the aid of a male figure in your life (your father, brother, ex-boyfriend, etc.). But you consider yourself to be reasonably smart and resourceful. You've read enough guides to survival in the wilderness, but can you resist the charms of the boy who left you behind, or the sexy stranger who seems to have a hint of pain behind his eyes, despite a shady, unknown past/identity?
B. The "helpful" ex-boyfriend. You are a freshman at Stanford, know how to shoot a gun, and can survive in the wild on your own pretty handily. Sure, your dad's given you your share of hell and considers you the ultimate failure, and your former girlfriend holds a grudge by the way you dumped her, but you can still protect her if something goes wildly wrong, right? After all, who knows what's lurking out here in this storm? Maybe you might even rekindle what love you once lost...
C. The "damaged" stranger. You hide behind an identity for your own reasons and are caught up in some possible shady crimes. Sure, your partner brandishes a gun and takes some girls hostage, but you go along for the ride because you don't really have much choice in the matter. Somehow, you just want to get off the mountain alive, but you have your own baggage to carry. And that might just be murder...but it's okay. You're still a "good guy." You might be in love with one of your hostages, and ultimately - helping her is what matters, right?
D. The "best friend". You're smarter, prettier, more determined than the heroine. So you say. And despite the fact that your heroine BFF has dated your brother in the past, that doesn't mean that you should go your separate ways. You're in this together. You deserve to survive, right?
E. The park ranger. You see a strange girl approaching your cabin in the middle of a snowstorm during a massive manhunt. Something about this scenario seems off, so you decide to go to her rescue, just from her nervous demeanor. But be careful - there's a massive manhunt for two guys wanted for murder. Are you willing to be the hero in this tale?
Have you chosen your answer? Good. Well then, looks like we can reveal answers then.
A. You are Britt, the hapless heroine of "Black Ice"! Much of your time in this narrative is spent shaming your best friend of how jealous she is of your beauty and brains, and the fact that you've looked through her diaries to see how sooo jealous she is of you! You also shame her brother (Calvin), who was your ex-boyfriend and unceremoniously dumped you just before Prom. How rude! So - to incite jealousy - you pick a random stranger to pretend to be your boyfriend and he plays along with it rather well. Rather TOO well.
When you and your BFF end up stranded in the storm, you end up seeking refuge in a cabin only to be captured by two strangers (one of which is your "pretend boyfriend") who are possibly murderers. But one of them is super hot, and even when you have countless chances to escape, you decide to stick around, because there's no point in running anyway. The super hot one is a good tracker, and even if you run, he'll find you. But then again, he doesn't seem to be that bad a guy, and the two of you have some almost sexy times together. But then you realize he might've killed the girl that disappeared on the mountain a year ago, and even worse, he has stuff that belonged to said dead girl. You escape your captor, and take refuge with your ex-boyfriend, who isn't as innocent as he seems...
B. You are Calvin, Britt's ex-boyfriend! Yes, you are a smart dude, and unappreciated! But you have secrets of your own, very dark secrets.
But see, Britt and your sister don't understand your genius. As long as they rely on you, you can ultimately make them see your reasoning eventually, right? After all, you did save Britt from frostbite, and you did save your sister from starvation after Britt and her captors left your sister to die in the shed without food or anything to survive with, right? You just have to make them see your reasoning. Never mind that you made an unwanted sexual advance to your former girlfriend after rescuing her from frostbite, and the fact that you tell your sister that Britt's only talking crazy with her suspicions against you. In the end, you're in control, but for how long?
C. You are Jude, the "sexy captor". Yes, you have washboard abs and a defined chest worth a woman running your fingers down. (Britt takes advantage of this and then some.) But the fact remains, you're still a suspect in a possible murder. You take Britt and her BFF hostage as an accomplice, but with your helpful demeanor and wanting to keep Britt alive (because she's the cute, smart one, forget her friend!) - she sees you as someone trustworthy.
Yes, Britt has a major case of Stockholm Syndrome (make that Stalk-holm Syndrome) when it comes to you, and you're apt to encourage it. When she escapes you over a misunderstanding, you emphasize how smart she is in order to woo her back. And a final confrontation between you and the REAL killer is still yet to be seen, right?
D. You are Korbie, Britt's BFF and Calvin's sister! You might have a mean girl streak and self-absorbed personality with diaries that go on for how much better you are compared to Britt, but in the end, you're there for your friend.
Yes, Britt and your captors left you alone in the cabin to starve, using the excuse that Britt was far more resourceful and was the stronger one of you both, while you had diabetes and were going to die anyway. Huzzah! What a friend!
E. You are the Park Ranger. Which doesn't mean much, really. You're helpful, resourceful, and see that Britt is in danger from her obvious nerves at the Ranger's station during the storm.
So much for heroics!
That's basically the gist of this entire book. Honestly, the characters felt so wooden and like puppets. They made stupid decisions, and for what? For shipping the purported love story between a girl and her captor? And add a twist to whom the bad guy really is, when really it was just a matter of making him the villain with poorly placed reveals? I think not.
The misogyny, girl-girl hate, and almost laughable climaxes lost my interest in the book and ultimately make me think that I'll never be able to read a "thriller" from Fitzpatrick again. Much less a romantic one.
Overall score: 1/5 stars.