Five stranded teenagers must battle for their lives against a group of escaped convicts, and each other, in this shocking survival thriller from the author of Bad Girls and Lost Summer.
Courtney Stanton thinks she's on just another ski trip with her friends until a horrific car accident strands them all on an isolated Colorado road during a blizzard. Frightened but alive, Courtney and her companions discover an abandoned vehicle nearby, and seek help. But the vehicle turns out to be a prison van, with the inmates missing, and the guard's dead body in the front seat.
Soon after, a stumbling figure emerges from the snow, a handcuffed refugee from the van. He says he's been in prison for selling meth, but that he once served in the army. Dare they trust him? He pleads innocence about the guard's murder, warns them about the other fugitives, and promises he will help guide them out of the wilderness. But as the group begins a nightmare trek across the frozen landscape, they start to get the feeling he hasn't told them the entire truth, and someone or something is secretly watching their every move.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Alex McAulay, author of Bad Girls, Lost Summer, and Oblivion Road, is a graduate of Brown University, and holds a Ph.D. in literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also an indie-rock musician who has recorded several albums under the name Charles Douglas. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Lisa. Visit him online at www.alexmcaulay.com.
Read an Excerpt
The dark-haired girl sprawled unconscious in the deep snow, the soft moonlight giving her pale features a fine glow, like an image from a fairy tale. Her hair fanned out around her head like folds of silk as the heavy snow continued to fall. Her clothes were already covered, as was one of her hands. The stark whiteness of the snow was marred only by drops of red that had come from her nose and ears.
Clutching his arm to his chest, as though it were broken, a teenage boy stumbled onto the two-lane road where the girl lay. He had struggled up from the ditch at the edge of the forest. Now he waded through the snow toward the girl, panting for air. Everything was white and silent, the road completely deserted. The boy knelt down by the girl's side and saw how still and quiet she was. Seemingly afraid to hurt her, he put a hand out and gently touched her snow-covered shoulder. Then he started saying her name.
When he first tried to wake her, the girl was still deep in a dream. She didn't want to wake up. Inside the dream she was safe, but she knew that if she woke up, she'd have to face the terrible thing that had just happened to her. She also knew somehow that outside the dream it was bitterly cold. The kind of cold that could suck the breath from your lungs and freeze the hairs in your nose. She would do anything to avoid feeling like that again.
But the boy's intrusive voice wouldn't stop calling for her. Over and over she heard her name, and she fought against it.
Suddenly, the hands touching her became rougher and she felt herself being pulled back into the harsh reality of her present surroundings. She curled up, keeping her eyes tightly shut.
"You're bleeding," she heard the voice say. "Your nose." Although she couldn't place the voice, it sounded familiar.
She supposed that now she was awake, she might as well give up and open her eyes. But when she tried, they wouldn't open all the way, like they were swollen or had sleep dirt in them. Eye boogers, she'd called the dirt when she was a little kid.
She finally got her eyes partway open and was somewhat surprised to see where she was. She was lying right in the middle of the desolate, snow-covered road. The snow was almost two feet deep.
"What happened?" she tried to ask as she sat up, but the words came out as a muffled burr. She reached a hand up and brushed snow and blood away from her nose and mouth. Her hand was shaking, and her left shoulder hurt like she'd been punched.
"Courtney, are you okay?" The voice was panicked, trembling with concern.
"Yeah," she mumbled. But she felt far from okay. Her head was aching like her brain wanted to burst out of the confines of her skull, and she felt dizzy, as though she'd drunk too much cough syrup. She brushed more snow off her face and out of her hair as she struggled to remember what had happened to her. When she looked down at her hand there was a lot of blood on it. "I feel sick."
Vague memories flitted at the edges of her mind. Some of them seemed silly, and some seemed important. She had been inside a car, an SUV. She remembered it had smelled like French fries because they'd stopped for fast food at a drive-thru a few hours earlier. She tried to focus her mind on more crucial issues: Where was the car now? Where had they been coming back from? Where had they been going? Most of all, she wondered what had happened to her, and if she'd be okay.
Courtney heard a noise as the boy sat down heavily in the snow next to her, looking dazed. In her confused state, she'd nearly forgotten about him. His tousled brown hair was matted with blood and dirt, and he had small cuts all over his face. They were tiny, like paper cuts. His eyes were very frightened, the pupils wide in the moonlight. For a second, she couldn't remember who he was, and it scared her. She knew she was supposed to know. Then his name came rushing back.
"Jeremy!" she said, relieved. He was her friend. From high school.
She moved sideways in the snow and hugged him, feeling his warmth. He put his arms around her, and she winced in pain.
"I thought you might be dead," he finally said. She could hear the emotion in his voice. "I couldn't get you to wake up."
"It's okay..." Her vision went all blurry for a second, but then it cleared again. "What happened to us?"
"You don't remember?"
She shook her head, but it hurt her neck, so she stopped. "No. I mean, sort of." Her memory of the event was slowly coming back. She remembered they'd been returning from a ski trip at Quail Ridge Run outside Pagosa Springs. They had spent a weekend there at a condo owned by Jeremy's father. It was now the tail end of Christmas break, and they were supposed to have left earlier in the day, but they'd stayed late. The boys had wanted one final run on a slope, a double diamond that had scared her.
"We had an accident," Jeremy said. "We crashed the SUV."
Courtney swallowed hard. "Oh my God." She turned to him slowly, trying not to make the pain worse. "Are we going to be okay?"
"I think so. You " Jeremy broke off. He looked away at the snow. "I think you got thrown out of the car. I just found you here on the road."
Courtney supposed she should be horrified, but she felt too numb to process his words. She looked down at her legs and made sure that she could move them. She could, although her body felt battered and bruised. She thought to herself: I could have died. She realized the snow had probably protected her and softened her landing. She felt glad to be alive, but oddly detached. She guessed the emotions would hit her later.
Courtney heard a strange choking sound and realized that Jeremy had started crying.
"Don't cry," she said. She had never seen him cry before, and they had been friends for well over two years, since the start of ninth grade.
"How are the others?" Courtney asked. She said it partly to distract him, because she didn't know what else to do. To be honest, she couldn't fully remember yet who had been on the trip.
"They're still in the SUV." Jeremy wiped his eyes. His hair was getting covered in snowflakes. "I climbed out my window to get help on the road. I found you first. We have to go back for them."
Courtney wiped some more blood from the corner of her nose as Jeremy got to his feet.
"Can you stand up?"
"I don't know." She gave Jeremy her arms, and he helped her up. The snow was so deep it came to her knees. Her ankles hurt, but the pain was bearable. She put an arm around Jeremy's shoulders for balance.
Courtney felt as though she'd taken a detour from real life and ended up someplace terrifying. She had no idea what stretch of road this was, only that it was cold and abandoned. Even though she was trying, she still couldn't remember anything about the accident. The last thing she remembered was laughing about some stupid pop song on the radio, turning around to look at Reyna
Her thoughts veered off as she realized what that meant. It meant that Reyna Foster, her best friend since junior high, had been on the trip with them. And now there was no sign of her. Courtney gripped the sleeve of Jeremy's thin jacket.
"Reyna..." she said.
He nodded grimly. "Yeah."
There was nothing more for either of them to say. Courtney didn't want to give voice to thoughts that were too horrible to face. She told herself that if she was okay, and Jeremy was okay, then Reyna probably would be too.
Courtney and Jeremy began to hobble through the snow to the edge of the road, where the ditch waited. It was wide and deep, a massive crevice overhung by snow-weighted tree branches. Everything was white.
"How did we crash?" Courtney asked as they stumbled forward.
"We hit a deer. A big one." He paused. "We started rolling and I blacked out. When I woke up, the SUV was in the woods. My door wouldn't open and no one answered me. I didn't know what to do."
"So the others are still inside the car? You're sure about that?"
"I think so." It sounded like he was in shock.
Courtney wondered what the SUV looked like now. She knew it had to be bad if she'd been tossed from the wreckage. She was incredibly lucky to have survived.
Courtney and Jeremy paused at the shoulder of the road, where the earth dropped away. The ditch seemed impossibly deep, and there was no guardrail. The snow disoriented Courtney, and she couldn't tell exactly where the road ended and the edge of the steep slope began.
She was very conscious of the cold. Every part of her that was exposed felt the sting of the freezing night air. She didn't have a jacket on, only a wool sweater, jeans, and boots. She shivered, rubbing her aching, throbbing arms, trying to stay warm.
"We slid off the road," Jeremy said. He pointed back behind them. "Those are our tire tracks, but the snow's filling them fast. I don't even know how long it's been since we crashed." He stared into the ditch. "The SUV's down there somewhere."
Courtney and Jeremy began picking their way down the snow-covered slope. Courtney was afraid she might fall, but she knew she had to focus and stay calm. Everything still had the strange, dislocated feeling of a nightmare. She clutched Jeremy's arm.
As they got closer to the bottom, where the snow and foliage were deeper and thicker, she saw signs of the SUV. Ahead of them, a ragged gap had been plowed through the underbrush and trees, like a hole punched right through the pristine landscape. Courtney realized the SUV had slid down the embankment and kept going, into the forest beyond, and was now hidden.
What if the others are dead? She tried to push the thought out of her mind.
"We need to get to the SUV." Every word Courtney spoke sounded like it had a slight delay, like she was hearing someone else's words coming from her mouth. She wondered if she had a concussion. She brought a hand up to her head and found two separate lumps that were starting to swell. It hurt to even graze them with her numb fingertips. "I can't believe this happened to us," she murmured softly.
Jeremy nodded, but he looked distracted. Courtney noticed one of his hands was pressed up against his side.
"You okay?" she asked him.
"Sure." But he didn't sound okay. He sounded like he was in pain.
"I got a stitch, or a cramp. Or something. I'll be fine."
Courtney could tell he was trying to be stoic, like boys were supposed to act. But she'd already seen him cry, so she wished he would just be honest with her.
The two of them walked through the snow at the bottom of the ditch until they reached the gap in the trees. It appeared as though the SUV had possibly crashed through on its side or on its roof. Courtney didn't allow herself to wonder what kind of shape her friends were in. Her fingers were feeling so numb it was scaring her, so she blew on them and rubbed them. She didn't know where her gloves had gone.
The hole left by the car opened onto a spectral, crystalline world, and Courtney peered inside, caught between awe and terror. Trees that had been sheared by the impact were already getting covered with snow again. There was dead, utter silence
"Look," Courtney said. In the distance, thirty yards or more into the white forest, were the remains of the SUV. The car had come to rest at the base of a thick pine tree. It was right-side up, but looked half crumpled, like a discarded piece of construction paper. Random items from inside were scattered on the forest floor atop the snow, black shadows in the half-light. Courtney could see shattered glass and bits of metal glistening along the path to the car. Most of the windows, except the front windshield, looked completely broken out.
Courtney's first thought was that it didn't look like the kind of accident people could survive. She glanced over at Jeremy, and he looked as stunned as she felt.
"Fuck," he said, the word coming out in a breathy exhalation. She noticed he was still holding his side. "It's worse than I remembered."
Without saying another word, they began moving toward the car as quickly as they could. Courtney pushed branches out of her way as she stumbled forward, getting covered in even more snow. The snow infiltrated her sweater and her jeans, yet she barely registered the sensation.
She reached the SUV first, a moment before Jeremy. "Reyna!" she called out. And then, her memory returning in a final burst, "Harris! Melanie!" Courtney remembered now there had been five of them in all. She, Reyna, Jeremy, and then Harris and Melanie: two friends of Jeremy's from his church youth group who happened to be a couple. They'd come along on the ski trip too. She didn't know them that well, but they'd all had a good time together, skiing and partying in Pagosa Springs.
I just can't believe things ended up this way, Courtney thought.
Jeremy moved behind Courtney and went past her, starting to yell out names too. At first, there was no response from inside the SUV. Courtney was trying to think about where everyone had been sitting. She knew Jeremy had been driving it was his parents' Ford Explorer and she'd been sitting next to him up front. But Reyna had been in the backseat with Harris and Melanie.
Courtney tugged on the doors and tried to get inside, but couldn't. The car had been reconfigured by the accident, all the doors and windows jumbled into one another, like it had been through a trash compactor. Automatically, Courtney kept calling the names of her friends over and over. Jeremy was doing the same, a distant echo now at the far side of the vehicle.
Courtney was almost startled to hear a voice suddenly answer from inside the SUV. "Court?" she heard it say weakly. "Is that you?" The voice belonged to Reyna.
"It's me!" Courtney said, the words tumbling out in relief. Even if Reyna was injured, at least she was still alive, and that was what mattered most. "You're going to be okay. We'll get you out. Are you hurt?"
"I can't tell," Reyna's voice came back. "But I think I'm trapped in here."
"Reyna, don't move," Jeremy said from the other side of the car. "I'm going to pry open the door."
"Do it fast. It's kind of hard to breathe."
Courtney still couldn't see Reyna even though she was looking through one of the broken passenger windows. The interior of the SUV was just too dark. She heard Jeremy grappling unsuccessfully with the door.
"Harris and Mel are in here with me," Reyna managed to add. "They're knocked out, but they're breathing."
Courtney supposed she should be relieved everyone was still alive, against the odds, but she was scared. They were in the middle of nowhere, off some rural road cutting through the countryside from Pagosa Springs up to Denver. It was a thin, winding road between two mountains, a shortcut that Jeremy had seen on the map and insisted they take for some reason. They'd been lost before they crashed, she now remembered that much. Harris and Jeremy had been arguing over which road would get them home fastest.
Jeremy came over to Courtney, gripping trees for balance. His face was very pale. "I can't get the door open."
Although Courtney was in pain, especially from her throbbing head, she forced herself to ignore it. She knew they had to get Reyna and the others out of the SUV, that their friends were depending on her and Jeremy to rescue them. She looked at Jeremy, his hand still clutching his side. Neither of them were in good shape, but Reyna, Harris, and Melanie probably had it worse. She swallowed back fear, trying to think of the right thing to do as she stared at the SUV.
"Listen," she said finally. "I have a plan."
Copyright © 2007 by Alex McAulay
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Five teenagers crash their SUV on their way home from a ski trip. While attempting to find help, they discover a prison van. Later a prisoner approaches them, claiming to need help. That prisoner turns out to be much more dangerous than they expected. I gave the book away to Humberside; too much profanity for a middle school, and too violent.
I received this book as part of the Other Shelf Tours, and I requested it on pure cover appeal alone -- and since we all know how this typically works out for me, I'll just hold out my hand to be slapped now.I don't know why I don't learn. I sort of don't know what to say about this book. It's not that the writing was awful, per se, it's just that I was completely indifferent for a majority of the book. This is a suspense novel, and it should have been riveting. These kids are stranded in a brutal environment with an apparent truckload of maniacs on the loose, and horrible, absolutely horrible, things are happening to them -- and I didn't care. McAuly never made me feel like Courtney or her friends were real, and even though they were in near-constant danger, I never felt as though they were -- I never had that tension that you should have with this type of book, the tension where you jerk upright and hunch over the book, or literally sit on the edge of your seat in some weird mimicry of the events, as if you may get up and run or fight or whatever the case may be. Courtney's narration was sort of apathetic and disjointed, which is maybe a realistic shock reaction, but which doesn't lend itself to the excitement of a suspense story -- and this feeling carried over even into the parts where Courtney claimed to be terrified. I found myself apathetic in the same way, at one point calmly thinking, "Yeah, ___________'s going to die," and moving on like it was nothing. I should care is a main character is about to bite it. I have to put this on McAuly -- you can't just say there's terror, you have to prove it. Make me terrified, make me give a damn. If brutal, horrific things are happening and I feel nothing more than mild disgust, that's an issue.There did come a point near the end of the book where I started to feel a little more tension -- when Courtney is finally faced with the decision to confront the situation and be active on her own -- and from then on it was more enjoyable -- but in a 300 page book, to become invested in the last 50 pages is unacceptable. That's 250 pages of wasted potential. And even though I felt the tension then, it was too little, too late. But that point it was too close to the end for me to care who made it out alive, if anyone. I was over it. That budding tension should have happened in the beginning and been built upon throughout, so that by the end I was ravenous to know what happened. That's what a thriller should be. If this hadn't been a book specifically for review, I wouldn't have made it past 50 pages. I don't even know that I would have made it to 50 pages. If I don't care enough about the characters by then to worry when they're in imminent danger, then it's too late to make me care.
Oblivion Road by Alex McAulay is about a group of friends coming back from a skiing trip. During a big storm they crash their car on a back road that seems abandoned. There is only one other car further down the road. It¿s a prison van, and the security guard is shot. Will these kids survive long enough to get rescued?
Reading this book made me think of those teenage horror flicks I used to watch as a young adult. Every scene in the book I could picture on the big screen. It's one of those that I would be gripping my husband's hand next to me as I sit on the edge of my seat, waiting for the next ball to drop, trembling with anticipation. The author created such a suspenseful, tense storyline that kept me up until 1:00am on a work night, because I HAD to know how it ended! I loved this book! I will admit that I figured out what was going on about midway through, but I didn't know for sure, so I was furiously turning the pages to see if I was right! The author's pacing of the story was spot on and kept me intrigued page after page. I love how the chapters ended on a cliffhanger, so I had to continue reading to see what happened next! Hence, the staying up until 1:00am part! I'm not going to recap the book as I think the synopsis is spot on and covers it all perfectly. I love suspenseful novels and this one definitely fit the bill. This is the first book I read by this author and I will definitely be looking for his others. This is a great young adult book, with some fairly gruesome scenes, so be forewarned!! It reads very quickly and easily and will keep you on the edge of your seat. Recommended!! Jennifer http://www.crazy-for-books.com
I have been wanting to read this for awhile now and was excited when I finally got the chance to. I Loved it! This is one book that won't disappoint it's readers. There are surprises from beginning to end. It was extremely hard for me to put down. It seemed as though every time I turned the page, another unexpected twist would occur. I couldn't figure out what would happen to the teens, so I was on the edge the whole time. Honestly, it would totally suck to be caught in a situation like that, especially when you add some escape convicts on top of that...Yikes!! Courtney and Reyna are two very brave and courageous girls. They never gave up, even after everything they had to endure. Their will to survive was unbreakable. Packed with action, mystery, and suspence, this is a must read novel!
Five teens are on their way home from a weekend ski trip in Colorado. Suddenly they are faced with a terrible accident, and thrown into the forest. Stranded in the forest with nothing to eat, drink, or any means of communication with all of civilization, two best friends, Cortney and Reyna hike through the deep snow. The walk about a mile in the blizzard hoping to find any sort of help, when they stumble upon the abandoned prison van, with the guard shot dead. Unsure if, or how many inmates were in the van, they scury back to the others back in the forest. From there, everything went downhill. Being followed by a prisoner, they trust him, and he pleads innocence. Along their journey to "freedom" each of them are holding secrets from eachother. Can the prisoner be trusted? Characters take things to an extreme to get to freedom, and face terrible situations. Oblivion Road is a suspenseful, fast paced novel, with ironic twists, and a secret conflicting crush. This book was great. I enjoyed it. The book is very fast paced, not too challenging to read, and goes by quick. The characters are real, and the details make the setting and conflicts seem more realistic. This book would be better for people around my age because it doesnt have such difficult vocabulary that you cannot understand it, but there are words I came across that were difficult. I recommend this book to anyone who likes horror or suspenseful novels. TYLER!
I loved this book I mean throughout the whole book I couldnt even figure out what was going to happen, I was always ending up being wrong about what was going to happen next. This book was greattt very suspenseful and a tad bit scary, but thats why I liked it most!! I think you should read this book if you seek suspense deffenitlly.
p.s: i cant spell worth crap!
I started reading this book, and i liked it. than i got into deeper deeper, it got really horrified. But i couldnt put it down, its one of my favorites, theres alot of twists in the story. Its a ok book to read if u like things a murdering and teenage things.
Five friends, Jeremy, Courtney, Reyna, Harris, and Melanie, just wanted to have a fun vacation. Skiing on the slopes and just hanging out. Everything was fine until the ride home.
Not knowing what happened, Courtney finds herself on a road with a guy, Jeremy, right beside her. The car the teens were in had crashed and flipped into a ditch, but none of them knows how it happened. All of them are fine, rescuing one another, but having someone rescue all of them seems impossible, especially when everything is isolated and a blizzard is closing in on them. The teens are stranded, with no way to call for help or find their way home -- but at least they have each other.
They all lose hope since there is no way out, that is until they see a van. Unfortunately, the van was once home to prisoners who were being transported, and who have escaped, leaving the drivers behind, dead. Surviving through harsh weather may have been hard, but now trying to stay alive with convicts loose seems much more difficult. Of course, not all convicts are bad, right? At least that is what the one convict says when he stumbles upon the teens.
The convict, J.G., says he was in the army and was only in prison for selling drugs and would not kill anyone, especially the guards. Sure, he may have helped Melanie, with her injured leg, and he knows all the medical terms and possibly a way for the teens to go home. But will the teens stick with him the entire time to be saved, or will they regret ever trusting him? Will all of them find their way home or will only a few make it?
Five teens, oblivious of what lies ahead, of what will happen in the end.
Being stranded and having to survive is Alex MacAulay's forte. In true fashion, being trapped and completely lost has to be the least of anyone's worries since there are more dangers that lurk in every corner. Another hit from MacAulay, who leaves his readers at the edge of their seat, wondering themselves if being stranded would be as exciting as this. Fans of BAD GIRLS and LOST SUMMER will not be disappointed.
this book kept me on end all the time. i loved it.
It's so suspenseful!!!! Scary as heck! You can feel how scared and cold and all their feelings during all of this! It was truly a masterpiece!!!!
don't let the three getcha down. it was a very exciting book but definetly not one of my favorites. i loved courtneys charecter and it was sort of realistic, you know, if something that horrible and unexpected thing happened, so it was good in that way. i just thought after all of the horrible stuff that happened it was like that author got tired so he just thought up the end and wrote it out of nowhere. that's just how it seemed for me. if you like suspense and don't mind a little gross descriptions, then read it and post a review saying how you liked it. overall it was a good book but i wasn't all that interested.
I absolutely love this book by Alex McAulay. It is a really great survival thriller that isn't just about survival. Though the bulk of the problems deal with survival, there are others that deal with friendship and other issues. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book because it starts out explaining that a character is severely injured but we don't know why. Things like this force you to read on to figure out what will happen next. It makes you wonder every page until the end. There are no hints to what may come next. You would think the problem is easy to see. If they could walk to the nearest town and call for help, everything would be okay. It is only in the end that you see the real problem, a problem the teenagers had no idea was possible. Another thing I liked a lot about Oblivion Road was that at the end of each chapter, you were left hanging so you would need to read into the next chapter to figure out your questions. Overall, this was a great action-packed story that I would recommend to any guy or girl who likes powerful survival or friendship stories.
This is such a great book! It is really intense and scary, with characters that seem real to the reader. I could not put this book down! When it ended, I wanted it to keep going. I hope Alex Mcaulay writes a sequel.
The ending stinks. When you think things are bad, they just get worse, and worse, and worse. There seems to be no end to the awful things that happen in this book. People die, crazy people are around watching, wolves want to eat them, it's cold, hands get chopped off, and everything goes wrong in this story. The beginning is good, and it captures readers, but PLEASE, don't read this book. Save yourself the time, and read something a little less dreadful.