I came into ‘Black Ice‘ by Becca Fitzpatrick wanting something different that would keep me guessing and intrigued until the very last page, and that’s pretty much what I got. I liked that with this book I didn’t know who to trust at times and had to keep turning the page — I was definitely hooked!
This review is going to be all over the place because I loved some parts and hated others. This isn’t an “I loved it!” or an “I hated it!” review. It’s something in the middle. This book left me frustrated in parts, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way. . . .
The setting of ‘Black Ice‘ is gorgeous; as a winter lover the snowy backdrop drew me in and gave the book a moody vibe. I also like how the book ended with a completely different setting; it lifted the dark mood of the book and wrapped everything up quite nicely.
I loved how Fitzpatrick tied everything together in the end. I wasn’t left with any questions after I read the very last line, because everything was brought full circle. (Side note: I loathe when authors don’t answer major questions, leaving you wondering a million different things in the end — unless there’s a guaranteed sequel. So the fact that Fitzpatrick cleaned everything up was a big plus!)
Oddly, though I liked the book, I didn’t like a single one of its characters. Nope, not one. Some for very obvious reasons (ahem, Calvin), others just because they were drab and boring (Mason), and others because they were seriously unnecessary filler characters (Korbie). As for Britt, I didn’t like how easily she fell for people. She loved Calvin, she loved Mason, and she even thought Shaun was cute and tried to steal him from Korbie (admirable). She was written to be one of those girls who likes any guy who gives her attention — aka thirsty. Yes, I just called a book character thirsty . . . but if you read it, you’ll see what I mean. You’re kind of left wondering if there’s a man on the face of this planet she wouldn’t like if they gave her the right amount of attention.
I personally don’t love cheesy I-love-him-and-I-can’t-explain-why romances that come with a lot of ‘And-then-I-covered-his-mouth-with-mine’ lines that are painfully overdone in YA, so I admittedly cringed during those scenes. I just didn’t feel any connection between Britt and Mason and I think Britt was too easy to please. Basically, this is how I read the whole “romance” aspect from Britt’s POV:
“Well, you’re here, you’re a male. I like males. You’re my captor and I’m freezing cold and might die, but you’re a male . . . so, like, we should kiss, because it doesn’t take a lot to make me all warm and fuzzy. You lied about Korbe’s insulin for me, so basically you’re a hero and I want to marry you.”
I don’t care about perfect, flawless characters, but I do care about authors giving their characters reasons for doing the crazy things they do. Something better than the fact that Mason did a couple of half-decent things for her. Makes me think that Mason could’ve been anyone, and she would have fallen for him on account of him having a pulse. Like Britt’s just in love with love.
Common sense was lacking BIG TIME in this book at times, which was hard to digest. For instance, Mason gives Britt a drink from a flask and (of course) she drinks it (because why not? *bats eyelashes*). Just look at these quotes:
“I was so rattled, I hardly felt the liquid burn down my throat. It was cold like water, but bitter, and I sputtered and coughed as I tipped the bottle for more. Soon a certain warmth crept into my body, and my breathing relaxed.”
(Later on) Mason:
“Do you have the bottle of moonshine I gave you earlier?”
Moonshine. Of course, he’d given me alcohol. I’d never drunk it before, so the taste had been foreign.
I just can’t fathom how she didn’t know it was alcohol by its wretched taste? And normally when one accepts a strange drink from their captor and it burns and makes you sputter, they don’t tip “the bottle for more.” Wouldn’t a sane person perhaps ask, “What is this?” before drinking the mystery liquid handed to them by a criminal? So yeah, that irked me.
The friendship between Britt and Korbie is atrocious. These two are not friends. These two are frenemies and are apparently both suffering from jealously issues. I strongly dislike girls who throw their friends under the bus for male attention, and that happened a lot between Korbie and Britt. Example, you ask? When Britt and Korbie’s captor got Britt alone, this is what he said told her, and she thought it was “perfect” . . .
“I knew Korbie’s type from the minute you guys came knocking. But you were harder to peg. You’re good-looking and smart, and it threw me. Most pretty girls I’ve met don’t have the complete package. They’re crazy, sure, up for adventure, but not like this. Not up for hiking the crest of the Tetons.”
His response could not have been more perfect.
Yeah, don’t know why you’d think it’s “perfect” that someone just completely insulted your best friend?
I really loathed Korbie’s entire presence in this novel, though. If Britt didn’t need someone to accompany her on her trip, then Korbie could have totally been cut out of the novel. Also, I thought it was comical that Korbie was apparently sleeping through gun shots, someone being tortured, Mason being dragged down the stairs, etc. She. Just. Kept. Sleeping. And then when she woke up, she got knocked back out by her brother. (Because she wasn’t necessary to the story . . . just a useless—and annoying—character.)
Other things I didn’t like about ‘Black Ice‘:
Britt had to literally drag Mason down the stairs because he was so badly injured and on death’s door, but a hand full of minutes later the guy is running through the woods and even dragging Britt? Uh — so he magically healed really, really, really fast then?
I’ll admit, there are a few things that don’t add up in the story, but I was able to glaze over them and enjoy the story regardless. Sometimes they were just things that made Britt seem ridiculously ditzy. Like how Britt spends ages trying to make a fire, nearly freezes to death doing so, but it doesn’t occur to her for so long that there must be a way back into the cabin since Mason entered without being noticed/heard. (Or that windows are breakable, and she could have broken it.) Which means the whole trying-to-make-a-fire scene was a major and obvious filler scene that just made Britt appear extremely flighty.
I can’t forget to touch on the fact that Britt is extremely male-dependent and a weak character.
Here’s a quote from ‘Black Ice‘ that has people reeling in other reviews.
…for a minute there, I’d thought I was going to have to save myself. Instead, I’d wandered into the protective care of a sexy older man.
It’s annoying, I know. Britt is a frustrating and annoying character, I get it. What bothers me about people getting their feathers ruffled about the fact that Becca created a girl who is weak and inordinately male-dependent (and Britt is; she admits this various times throughout the novel) is that they’re missing the point: Authors are free to create imperfect characters. When an author writes a character, they, too, are aware of these flaws and are usually doing them on purpose. If all authors created perfectly strong-willed, independent, bad-ass female characters then everyone would criticize the author for not making the character “real” or “relatable” or for trying to make her/him sound “too perfect.”
I personally don’t think that the author was trying to glorify women who are incapable of doing anything without a man’s help. To me it felt more like Becca was mocking male-dependancy. Sometimes authors write main characters they, themselves, don’t like. To say that every character in every book must to be a good role model for girls is ludicrous; girls, instead, should be taught how to decipher between right and wrong themselves, and taught not to copy/follow the main characters in the books they read. (Heaven forbid a girl reads Lolita and thinks anything about that storyline is normal/okay! The point is she should know it’s wrong all on her own.) To say that authors should be forbidden to write imperfect, flawed, or even weaker characters, is pushing it. Authors aren’t promoting anything, they’re telling a story. Stories are about all types of people, not just the strong, faultless ones. I understand being frustrated with a characters or disliking them (heck, I dislike all these characters!), but some of the reviews I’ve read actually attack the author and claim that she is promoting male-dependence and even question her mental state. A little harsh.
I just disagree; in fact, I wanted to be the complete opposite of Britt when I was done reading this. This wouldn’t have influenced me one bit when I was younger; I would’ve just been turned off by Britt, like I am now. I mean, she *(gasp*) made her own peanut butter sandwich at the end and it was made out to be the biggest deal in the world, which I quite honestly thought was disgusting. To be her age and to be proud that you spread peanut butter on bread all on your own is pathetic . . . so yeah, this book definitely made me see how awful it looks to be male dependent. Which I have a feeling was Becca’s point. Again, I don’t think she was promoting it, rather she was mocking it. (I do agree that she already did the flawed, weak female thing in her ‘Hush, Hush’ series and could’ve tried something new with this, though. Some parts of the ‘Black Ice‘ characters did seem like recycled ‘Hush, Hush’ characters. But the story itself was very different. Let’s hope Fitzpatrick can come up with a female character who is okay standing on her own two feet and who doesn’t need a male to save her in her next writing project. Fingers crossed!)
Though this book had some frustrating aspects for sure, I do think it’s worth the read for anyone looking for a book with a wintery setting and a story that’ll be hard to put down. You want to know what’s going to happen to these characters in the end whether you like them or not. I should also note that Becca Fitzpatrick’s writing itself is great.