Ice by Susan Brocker
When worker dog Ice is found by Zac, it seems to unlock a new adventurous spirit in the young man. Sent to Wanaka to spend time with his Dad and his step mum, Zac struggles to connect with his outdoorsy dad. And, to his dad, Zac is little more than one of them gamers from the city. It’s a combination that creates tension on both sides.
So, when Zac comes home with a beautiful white husky dog which Zac has named ‘Ice’ - based on the beautiful colour of her eyes - there is some concern for how he will manage her. Trying to both entertain his son so he can be freed up to continue with his own job, Zac’s father sends him to work at a local animal sanctuary. It’s there that the whole story kicks up a notch.
Things are not what they seem at the sanctuary. A menagerie of wild animals kept in less than correct enclosures mask so horrific things happening behind the scenes. It’s up to Zac, with the help of his newfound love for Ice to help uncover the secrets of the sanctuary and save the animals - and his own dad.
This book has got the feel of an adventure from start to finish. It is captivating and enthralling to unravel the layers of action in the novel with everything, including - as they say - a bit with a dog. Brocker’s writing style is clear and the voice is really authentic. It’s a can’t put down narrative that would work with young boys in particular.
Set in New Zealand adds a relatable premise to the adventure. With a lot of these YA fiction novels there is a foreignness to the overarching story, here it is right on our doorstep and retains that intensity that is required to push the whole thing along. While focused on the relationship between Zac and Ice, there are a host of interesting and enjoyable characters along the way, from Zac’s dad, to friends from school, to the good and bad characters at the park.
Overall, a brilliant piece by a very talented author. It’s not hard to see why this is going to have a following. Maybe even a film of it one day? One can only hope.
Reviewer: Chris Reed
Scholastic New Zealand