Genre: YA Adventure
How it begins: "All eight of my dogs are stretched in front of me in pairs along the gangline. they claw the ground in frustration as the loudspeaker blares. 'Here's team number five. Our hometown girl, fourteen-year-old Victoria Secord!'"
What happens next: Victoria is still grieving the death of her father who taught her everything she knows about surviving in the Alaskan wilderness. Her dogs and mushing are what she loves most...and what help her survive her overwhelming grief. So when she gets a chance to acquire a new lead dog from a neighboring musher, she heads out cross-country with her sled and her dogs without telling anyone where she's going. Only she forgets to check the forecast. When a sudden March storm threatens, she debates about turning around and heading back home. But then she runs across a crashed snowmobile. The driver, Chris, is a teenager who's new to Alaska; he's hurt, and he's lost. As the storm worsens, it's up to Vicky and her dogs to keep them both alive...and somehow find their way back home.
My thoughts: At 279 pages, Ice Dogs is a fun and fast-paced adventure. I read it in a day. Vicky's survival skills were impressive, but the Alaskan wild is unpredictable and dangerous. Finding food, staying warm, and protecting her dogs from wolves and moose takes everything Vicky's got. And Chris's lack of outdoor skills isn't exactly helping (especially when he accidentally burns up her only map). I have to admit, while I liked both these characters, Vicky's lead dog, Bean, was my favorite. I liked all the survival bits, too. Johnson's writing rings with authenticity, especially all the dog sledding parts, and her pacing never lets up.