Four teens stranded in the Alaskan wilderness find themselves sabotaging a foreign occupation.
Rising high school senior and cross-country standout Josh is days away from leaving his mountainside leadership camp when an earthquake buries everything. Only Derrick, Brooke, and Shannon—who, like Josh, were away from the main camp—survive. When time passes and help doesn’t arrive, the Fairbanks quartet sets off toward a distant town, hoping for rescue along the way. Early on, the text offers what readers would expect from Greci (The Wild Lands, 2019, etc.). Much like the environment it describes, Josh’s play-by-play first-person narration is simultaneously stark and lush. The group learns to collaborate while staving off the threats of dehydration, starvation, animals, fire, injuries, and allergic reactions. Dialogue expands from curt to compelling, and characters balloon into distinct, believable personalities. Suddenly, about halfway through, the text takes a turn from slow-burn survival to plodding geopolitical intrigue. After the earthquake, a Russian army somehow invaded Alaska, subdued its population, and gained control of its nuclear arsenal. Those missiles are now trained on the Lower 48 states, and the American government must either acquiesce to Russian demands or nuke its own people. Can Josh and company demolish a bridge to help save not only themselves, but the entire free world? Excepting Shannon, who is Athabascan, protagonists are white. The concerns of Native people are treated in an offhand manner.
An odd but ambitious cross-genre thriller in search of an ideal crossover reader. (Adventure. 12-17.)