A review by libraryjen
Switchback by Danika Stone


Switchback is the first novel by Danica Stone that I've read, but it won't be the last. The two main characters are teens on a school PE field trip hiking in the Canadian Rockies. Vale is a social outcast, the target of bullies. She's smart and resourceful, but still learning how to advocate for herself. She self-describes as aro-ace (aromantic/asexual), which is a term I had not heard before reading the book. The discussion of this was tastefully done, giving just enough information for the reader to understand, but no graphic detail. It came across as believable and was appropriately handled for the target age group. The other main character, Ash, is Vale's best friend and has been since elementary school. Ash is a hard-core gamer who spends most of his free time in the basement playing various multi-player online games. He's also a bit of a slacker and a clown. The reader gets the feeling that he could easily be the target of the bullies as well, except he has developed a coping strategy of self-deprecating humor that shrugs everything off. There is no romance in this story to distract from the survival story, it's just platonic friendship. (Hallelujah! I love a good YA story that does NOT revolve around romance).

When Ash and Vale get separated from the rest of the group, they become hopelessly lost in country wild enough for elk, cougars, and grizzlies. Vale is a hiker with some experience, but nothing as primitive as what they're up against now. Ash has no clue. Still, it will be up to the two of them to help each other survive.

The characters were flawed and relatable, but also realistic. The drama could be a bit over the top at times, but teenage drama usually is. The book was well researched and well written and I will definitely be buying it for my library and recommending it to my patrons.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this ebook from Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.