Author: Susan Brocker
Reviewer: Donna Dobson
If you are a boy who likes gaming, and your parents give you a hard time about the amount of time spend indoors on games, then this might well be a book for you.
The book starts with a helicopter crash into a snowy and mountainous part of New Zealand and the only survivor is a tracking dog.
The book then jumps to Zac, a young boy who is now living in Wanaka with his father, a hard man, and a kind step-mother, thoughtful step-sister, and a step-brother.
Zac feels out of place and prefers to spend time in his room gaming.
His step-mother takes him to a dog-shelter to choose a dog. This is where the tracking dog from the beginning of the story comes into it. A bond forms through the cage between boy and dog, and even though his step-mother has misgivings, this is the dog Zac takes home and names her Ice, because of the colour of her eyes.
Zak’s father is not impressed by Zac’s choice of dog and grumbles about his ability to handle a strong husky, so he sets Zac up with a job at a private wild life sanctuary, collecting animal dung. But things are not what they seem on the surface at the sanctuary.
Zac meets several characters, both good and not so good. Ice appears to be a good judge of character and either accepts a person or gets her hackles up with others. Unbeknown to Zac, Ice is recognised by the wealthy sanctuary owner and his henchmen as she is the dog they had secretly organised to come out from South Africa with her tracker.
This sets off a chain of events that sees Zac grow in confidence and determination to find out what is really going on. Why is a lion tormented, why are the elephants mistreated, what is underneath the sanctuary, and who is following Zac and trying to steal Ice?
Zac ventures into the wilderness with Ice, where Ice leads him to the site of the crashed helicopter and its deceased passengers, but they also discover a wrecked van filled with a cachet of exotic animal pelts and tusks.
Zac, who has limited experience in the wilderness and in dealing with ruthless henchmen, finds himself battling for survival. This is where his gaming skills and knowledge come in handy. In games, Zac is a hero, but in real life, his father thinks he is useless. But Zac uses survival techniques he has learned from playing games to outwit criminals, scale up out of a cave, and save his dad and step-family.
This is an adventure story that holds one’s attention from start to finish, and whilst far-fetched, kids, particularly gamers, will enjoy this book (and maybe feel that it authenticates their time gaming). And we all fall in love with the husky, Ice, and feel the loss of her handler as much as this sensitive tracking dog.