GORE IN THE STORE
INTERVIEWS FILM BLU-RAY DVD & BOOK REVIEWS
Written by Gabriel Dylan. RRP £7.99.
Out now from Red Eye
“Ski Trips” seem to be something of an institution when it comes to school excursions for those on the wrong side of thirteen. My school certainly had one, when it bungled all its mid-puberty acne and angst-ridden sixteen-year-olds off to the mountains for a week. Although I didn’t attend, I imagine as much chaos was caused as humanly possible while rocketing down a mountainside. The thing with many of these Ski-trips is that their locations make the perfect setting for a horror story. After all, the resorts are usually up a mountain, with villages close but never too close. All it would take would be a blizzard or some other such natural phenomenon, and suddenly you have a group of people, trapped in harsh and unfamiliar surroundings and forced to fight for survival. Oh, and the big scary monsters, of course- can’t forget about them.
This is the situation that launches Gabriel Dylan’s ‘WHITEOUT’, an immensely fun little novel aimed squarely at the young-adult market. WHITEOUT is a book that knows who its aimed at. The heroes are an angst-ridden teen with difficult home-lives and gamer geeks to boot. Essentially, outsiders who come together to face the supernatural threat and do so while also dealing with the many difficulties of being a socially awkward teenager in high-school. This is the aspect that WHITEOUT is most successful at. Dylan is apt at getting his reader inside the heads of his many teen protagonists. We sympathise with their desires, wants, issues and fears. The opening chapter perfectly sums this up and is an excellent introduction, not only to the story but to our main character. Even characters which would typically be minor ‘villains’ in teen-driven stories are here given a reason for their actions.
Perhaps the main issue with WHITEOUT is that it opens with far too many characters. For the first half of the book, Dylan concentrates on building tensions before the inevitable disaster that forces our survivors into a fight for survival. He does this by introducing us to numerous individuals on the trip and exploring a little of their home or personal lives before moving on. Even if a character does not get this honour, we will probably find out their name. There are numerous reasons why Dylan may have chosen to open the book. Firstly, as previously stated, the successful attempt to build tension by showing us a gradual increasing of danger through the eyes of various characters. Secondly, he is possibly seeking to throw his reader off who is going to make it through the inevitable disaster. Or, perhaps he is hoping that we will have gained enough insight into each of their lives to build a level of sympathy for when that disaster comes. The issue is, it that when the creatures finally attack, there are just way too many characters. Names are thrown out at the reader, and honestly, I found myself turning back the pages to reacquaint myself with whoever it was who had just been beheaded. It’s an unfortunate issue, and I give Dylan kudos for attempting to build sympathy with so many characters. It may not be wholly successful, but the result is it at least keeps you guessing at who may make it out of there.
All in all, WHITEOUT is immense fun. It has its issues in the opening chapters, but when it gets going, it does so with gusto and becomes a page-turning thrill ride. It may not be for those who prefer their horror to be of the more subtly ‘ghosty’ mode, but for those who like things a little more visceral and survival driven- you really can’t go wrong. And for those looking for an excellent young-adult horror story, then look no further. Though maybe not one to read before you send your kid off to the alps for a week.
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