A vividly described adventure mystery, Trillion Lau
April 05, 2022
Ice by Susan Brocker is an adventure novel perfect for teenage dog lovers and mystery enthusiasts. If you want to come away from reading a book feeling inspired and determined to do better by our natural environment, then this is the book for you.
Zac is smart, brave, and stubborn, but he is also addicted to video games. His parents take him to the pound to find a dog to distract him from his gaming, and Zac meets a snowy-white German Shepherd. He has ice-blue eyes “like the surface of a frozen pond on a chilly day. They looked haunted and lost.” Zac decides to take Ice home, not knowing about his mysterious past; “What had he been thinking when he’d picked Ice? Or had she picked him with those eyes?”
Ice is Zac’s best friend, and she is trustworthy, loyal, and very clever – she even teaches Zac how to defend himself against a tiger. Even though I am more of a cat person, I really enjoyed how important Ice was in the novel, I think anyone who likes animals as much as people (or more) would agree.
On a trip to an animal sanctuary, Zac becomes suspicious of what is going on behind the scenes when Ice is hostile towards the owner.
Zac’s curiosity leads him on an adventure to find out what has been bothering his new and intuitive dog. On this adventure, Ice helps Zac discover the horrifying truth, and we finally discover who the villain of this story is.
Set in the South Island mountains of New Zealand, this is an exciting adventure/mystery novel, with many twists and turns as questions are answered and, in turn, replaced with more questions.
The villain’s despicable actions left me feeling disgusted. You realise, when reading this, how greed can distract you from your morals and lead you down a path of corruption – using those who are vulnerable for your personal gain. We see this level of corruption depicted in the author’s use of jarring language: “Elephant tusk, rhino horn and tiger bone fetch much more than gold or cocaine on the Asian black market.”
I liked the mystery of the villain, and the clues which reveal their identity. They are very realistic, and while perhaps more corrupt, not as scary as Roald Dahl’s Miss Trunchbull. I like a good villain, so I wish this one was a bit more frightening.
On one occasion, Zac becomes so absorbed into the world of his video games, he loses track of time: “He looked up, surprised to see that it was already dark outside.” The fact Zac is a gaming addict makes him relatable, but it is also cool how he uses his skills from gaming in the real world on his adventures: “He loved playing the part of the teenage action hero.” Everyone says gaming is a waste of time, so it was cool to see it represented differently.
The plot is very Zac-centric, but in Zac’s world, his father favours his stepbrother Mason, which makes Zac feel useless. Because of this, I felt it very easy to empathise with Zac and I rooted for him and his fight to prove his dad wrong on his journey throughout the novel. I think many teenagers could relate to wanting to prove themselves to their parents while rebelling at the same time.
This book is dedicated to the World Wildlife Fund, and the plot certainly reminds us of how fragile the population of many endangered animals is. I came away thinking about how important it is to protect our endangered animals – not only the lions, tigers and elephants that are featured in this book, but also the native wildlife of New Zealand.
I honestly cannot think of a fault in this book, I really enjoyed the vivid and descriptive imagery the author uses. The plot goes from intrigue to stress, to excitement to panic, and finally to satisfaction. Like all good adventures and mysteries, Zac finally gets what he is searching for and exposes the bad guy. I had not read many adventure novels like this before now. It is like Geronimo Stilton, or Scooby Doo but much more sophisticated and insightful. I wonder what will come next for young Zac and the distinctly intuitive Ice – another adventure perhaps?
– Trillion is 15 and lives in Auckland.