A group of teens embark on an ill-fated camping trip in this survival story.
Four tightknit but competitive friends from a Southern Californian boarding school are pushed by their ringleader, Ceo, into taking a clandestine backpacking hike in Yosemite. When one boy backs out, wealthy, charming Ceo takes the opportunity to invite Ellie, a young woman whom he previously met at a theater-arts workshop, to join them, further upsetting the already troubled balance. The narrative alternates between Colin, an earnest scholarship student, and Ellie, whose confident athleticism distinguishes her from Ceo’s usual conquests, moving between the present and past, carefully meting out details and successfully ratcheting up the tension as elements both meteorological and psychological begin to take their toll. A prickling ambiguity about the motivations of the fourth participant in the trip, a massive, moody guy named Grahame, whose annoying habit of speaking in a fake Jamaican-style accent displays a notable degree of cultural ignorance, is enhanced by Ellie’s and Colin’s varying perspectives. Ethnicity of the four main characters is not specified although each is physically described at length; the role of class difference between Colin and the others is realistically pervasive and carefully wrought.
A gripping, well-paced thriller that strikes a menacing tone, this will appeal to those looking for a good scare. (Psychological thriller. 14-18)