What it’s about: Deliverance meets the movie Crash in this survival adventure.
Well, that summary is perhaps a bit too pithy for what this book is and what it’s trying to be. It concerns three Los Angelinos–Gwen, an African-American youth counselor; Oscar, a Hispanic realtor; and Todd, wealthy white lawyer–who go for a four-day hike in the Sierra Nevada mountains, led by Tracy, their thrill-seeking Japanese-American trainer. I mention race because it is important to this story, and Revoyr spends some time setting up the back stories of the three hikers, jumping into each of their heads. Despite the idyllic natural setting, the tension begins to build before they even start hiking, as they first stop at a strange country store and then are told by the park ranger that their chosen trail has been closed due to a wildfire in the area. Egged on by Tracy, they decide to take the ranger’s suggestion and hike a little-known trail outside of the park, for which their only guide is a decades-old, hand-drawn map. After one nice day hiking, they take a wrong turn, and events get terrifying fast. As the suspense picks up, so does the pace, making this a very quick read.
Why I liked it: Through this straightforward adventure story, Revoyr is trying to take on race relations and turn stereotypes on their head, as she fleshes out her three point-of-view characters and shows how they each rise above expectations and overcome the challenges being thrown at them left and right. She does a great job making these three feel like real people, allowing the reader to wonder what we’d do if we were in their places (however, her villain comes across as somewhat cartoonish in contrast). Of course, the character who most intrigued me was Tracy, whose decisions were pretty much responsible for their predicament, and it was frustrating that we were never allowed to really know her. Overall, though, this is not only an exciting adventure story, but also raises a lot of interesting issues, about how we view one another and ourselves, and how extreme situations can help us get to the truth.
You might like it if: You like survival stories and you’re looking for something with a different perspective.