Don’t Let in the Cold

Sourcebooks/Fire. Oct. 2022. 320p. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781728256764.
Gr 7-10–While Lottie’s newlywed mother and new stepdad go on a quick honeymoon, Lottie is tasked with spending the night with her stepsister, Jade, in a remote winter cabin in Tahoe. What she expects to be an awkward evening quickly devolves into life-or-death terror after a solar flare knocks out the power and Alex, a seemingly friendly stranger who claims to be lost, shows up at their door. A chain of increasingly bizarre events results in the three teens running for their lives as they battle an unexpected blizzard, a fire, wild animals, a burglary ring, a religious zealot, and more over the course of four tumultuous days. Although the circumstances are certainly dire, the light, conversational tone of the dialogue often feels out of place and drains much of the tension from the conflict. The characters’ odd decisions at times strain belief and seem engineered by the author to give them a reason to flee. A syrupy romance that develops between Alex and Lottie late in the story feels discordant given their injuries and critical condition. Although Jade is Black and tells Lottie that she does not feel attraction to boys and Alex is Asian, these identities are only label-deep and are not developed in even a cursory way within the story.
VERDICT This twisty but ultimately mundane tale of survival is surprisingly lifeless. Not recommended for purchase except where additional, more accessible action/adventure titles are needed.

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