Siblings face a multiday fight for survival after getting lost on a hike.
Thirteen-year-old Grace and her 11-year-old brother, Carter, look forward to an “internet-free day” hiking up Blood Mountain with their dog, Sitka, and their father. What starts as a routine trip turns frightening when kids and dog become separated from their father and stray off the trail. Disoriented, they make more wrong decisions, which lead them deeper into the woods. Severe injuries, threat from a mountain lion, and an encounter with an unstable mountain man erode their hope of being found and challenge their ability to remain alive. What initially feels set up to be an inclusion of diverse elements—a “wheelchair-bound” mother with multiple sclerosis, a war vet mountain man dealing with what seems to be PTSD, and brown-skinned park ranger Makayla Devaroix (the only explicitly nonwhite character)—turns out to be mostly peripheral. In addition, while the use of alternating, third-person points of view for each chapter lends a filmic quality to particular scenes, allowing readers to experience the story from multiple perspectives, some may find that jumping among characters hobbles important opportunities for emotional connection in critical moments. Nevertheless, sectioning the story into six distinct days combines with the tight prose to make a fast-paced read for those not eager for more diversity in their outdoor adventures.
For diehard fans of wilderness survival. (Adventure. 9-12)