A real disaster follows a competitive one for an Arizona teen.
After Tyler freezes during his turn in the state high school speech tournament, causing his team to lose the competition, the bus ride home is pretty uncomfortable. The white teen is sulking by himself when the team’s school bus breaks down in the middle of the Arizona desert. Stranded several miles from their home city of Phoenix, the students, coach, and driver are forced to wait out what looks to be a brutal oncoming dust storm, as the second relief bus will not arrive in time. Instead of waiting safely on the bus, one teammate, a cocky know-it-all, decides to leave the group and run toward the city, without the consent of the coach. Knowing this is a dangerous move and hoping to save their teammate, Tyler and his dark-skinned crush, Julia, sneak off to go get L.J. and bring him back. The two find L.J., who has fallen and twisted his ankle. They make it back to the bus in time, and the students seal themselves in the bus as the titular black blizzard blows in. Though the story takes its time getting to the action, once the storm starts, it reads like a tutorial on how to survive it, making for absorbing reading. Others series entries publishing simultaneously include Deep Freeze, also by Johnson, and Backfire and Vortex, both by Vanessa Acton.
Emergency safety advice laced with teen banter makes for a quick read. (Adventure. 12-16)