Type of Fantasy: Arcanepunk
Seventeen-year-old Sena Korhosen hates the sled race, especially after it claimed both her mothers’ lives five years ago. Alone on her frozen planet, she makes money any other way she can—until she double-crosses a local gangster.
Desperate to escape, Sena flees with his prized fighting wolf, Iska, and takes an offer from a team of scientists. They’ll pay her way off-world, on one condition–that she uses the survival skills her mothers taught her to get them to the end of the race. But the tundra is a treacherous place. When the race threatens their lives at every turn, Sena must discover whether her abilities are enough to help them survive the wild, and whether she and Iska together are strong enough to get them all out alive.
As the girl and the wolf forge a tenuous bond and fight to escape ice goblins, giant bears, and the ruthless gang leader intent on trapping them both, one question drives them relentlessly forward: Where do you turn when there is nowhere to hide?
A sled race on a frozen planet and wolves? Count me in! Unfortunately, the sled race didn’t begin until about halfway through the book. The first part was about Sena making some dumb decisions. She even realizes that they’re dumb, but then she does the same foolish thing again, only a few pages later.
I understand the need for character growth, but there were just too many of the same kind of senseless decisions being made, and it felt like the only reason they were being made were to move the plot forward. I’m sure there were other ways to do that besides Sena continuing to steal from people and getting in trouble.
Sena’s anger and remorse of the death of her two mothers* became a bit repetitive, and I was more annoyed by her emotional outbursts than touched. More flashbacks probably would have helped make them seem more real.
There were some interesting/unique aspects to the worldbuilding, but it could have been flushed out a little better. For example, I had a hard time visualizing the goblins, and for the longest time I thought the splinter trees themselves were evil, so I kept expecting them to do something, but they never did. But I loved the idea of the charged storms and how they affected metal and technology.
Iska was probably my favorite part of the book, which I’m not sure is a good thing or not, since she’s a wolf and never talked ;). Her relationship with Sena was sweet, and it was neat to see the latter open up and begin to heal as she literally healed the wolf.
There were times that I wanted to stop reading the book because I was frustrated with various characters or way the book was written, but I’m still glad I read it. The excitement of the sled race (however short) was heart-pounding, and Sena’s relationship with Iska was sweet. Where’s my pet wolf?
If you’re a fan of sled races full of tension, hard-to-love main characters who act stupid at times, and loveable fierce wolves, then this book is for you!
*I kept wondering how Sena existed since she had two mothers. Was she adopted? It’s not integral to the plot, but because it’s biologically impossible to be born to two women in our world, it would have been nice to have this briefly explained.
Would you rather have a pet wolf or hawk?