A review by morgarelibrare
Switchback by Danika Stone


*Read at work for review for ROYAL*

I had hoped this one would be good, because I liked Danika Stone’s novel, All The Feels, but this book was definitely not for me.

Ash and Vale are best friends who go on a school mandated trip to the woods/mountains that is required for P.E. class in order to graduate. The book starts off badly with a letter from the teacher organizing the trip with rules and regulations for the trip, one stating that there are absolutely no phones or tablets allowed from students. Now, I get that you don’t want the kids to have their faces glued to a screen when they’re supposed to be learning something, but on this particular field trip, it seems irresponsible and reckless to leave the kids without any form of communication. It’s just asking for trouble…so of course trouble comes knocking.

Ash and Vale get separated from their class almost immediately and are forced to survive on their own, navigating the tasks of finding food and water, building a shelter, and protecting themselves from predator animals, like bears and cougars. Instead of sticking around in the spot where they got separated, so that the adults can double back and find them when they realize they’re missing, they venture off, deeper into the mountains and get lost for days.

I love a good survival story, but this just seemed overly dramatic, very juvenile, and the two kept treating their situation like it was a game of Dungeons and Dragons. There was also a lot of stereotypical high school drama both before and after the two get stranded. Ash and Vale are outcasts who get teased and bullied a lot for pretty much no reason, and that’s a good topic to analyze if it’s done correctly, but this just felt overly cliché in the way it was handled by Ash and Vale and their antagonists.

The one redeeming quality this book has is representation. Vale is aromantic and asexual, so a romance between her and Ash is not something that happens, they’re just really good buddies. At the start of the book, Vale isn’t out to her friends or family, and while stranded in the wilderness, she comes out to Ash, and the two talk about it in a positive light.

Aside from the LGBTQIA rep, this book was a big bummer for me, and just had me rolling my eyes at the absurdity at the majority of the situations. I think maybe it will appeal better to a much younger audience or those that are more interested in cliché high school drama.