Snow Burn

Rated 4.25/5 based on 8 reviews
Tommy knows he’s in trouble when he goes winter camping with friend Vince Nguyen without telling his folks. But when they’re caught in a sudden blizzard, and the man they rescue from freezing to death turns out to be an escaped convict, Tommy’s troubles are only beginning. Now Tommy and Vince must not only survive the blizzard, but also find a way to keep Quinn from killing them.
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About Joel Arnold

Joel Arnold is the author of several novels. His short stories and articles have appeared in dozens of publications, including WEIRD TALES, CHIZINE, AMERICAN ROAD MAGAZINE and Cemetery Dance's anthology SHIVERS VII. In 2010 he received both a MN Artists Initiative Grant as well as the Speculative Literature Foundation's Gulliver Travel & Research Grant.

Arnold teaches writing at student workshops throughout Minnesota and has given presentations about the Ox Cart trails of Minnesota and the Dakotas to several historical societies and other groups interested in history. He also serves as the literary director for the Savage Arts Council.

Arnold lives near the Twin Cities in Minnesota with his wife, two kids, two cats, a dog and a ball python. Plus he makes a mean coffee cake.

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Reviews of Snow Burn by Joel Arnold

Sarah Snyder reviewed on April 4, 2011

I haven't read that many suspense novels, but it is a genre that I enjoy. Snow Burn was a rather quick read that evoked a surprising amount of emotion and internal debate.

Both of the main characters (Tommy and Vince) are surprisingly well developed for a 70+ page story. True, they sometimes seem one-dimensional, but honestly, you cannot expect perfect characterization here. Like I said before, this is an extremely quick read and it is suppose to be a suspense novel. It simply would not work if the author was to drone on about the characters for pages at a time, it would mess up entire feel of the story.

The character of Tommy easy to relate to, I was the kid in high school that never really did anything. I wasn’t as extreme of a case as Tommy, but I definitely followed the rules. Tommy has lived an incredibly sheltered life and always does what he is told. He worries about everything and wants to spend his weekend of freedom in the safety of Vince's house. He wants to stay up all night, watch old scary movies and drink tons of pop. I would have been right there next to Tommy watching a horror movie marathon. No house parties in sight, no crazy shenanigans, nothing that could get me in a lot of trouble.That being said, I much preferred the character of Vince; Tommys best friend and partner in crime. He certainly isn’t perfect, in fact he is always the one to get the boys in trouble, but he is undeniably interesting. There were plenty of times I wanted to smack him upside the head, but I was always waiting to see what he would do, or say next.

As far as the dialogue goes – it seemed realistic enough to me. It is what I always pictured teenage boys sounding like, right down to the hot mom comments.

There were a few elements of Snow Burn that I wasn’t crazy about. First of all, I wish Tommy would have shown a little bit of backbone. I do not know if teenage boys usually do things this – camping out in the dead of winter in a closed state park, but red flags were immediately going up for me. Tommy knew Vince’s plan was insane, but Vince easily talked him into it. I am sorry, nothing and no one would ever make me do something like that. Sure, I can see my seventeen year-old self being talked into a lot of things, but never something like that. If teenage boys are really that stupid, I really, truly fear for their safety and sanity.

Also, the suspense was rather slow to build.The story isn’t that long and the portion of it that really deals with the heavy stuff is rather short; the majority of the plot is build-up. Granted, I wouldn't say that the pacing was slow, I just would have preferred to have more action.

Snow Burn is a story that makes you think. It makes you consider some extremely difficult questions about yourself. Nobody really knows how they would react in a situation like this – you can pretend you would always do the right thing, but you can’t really be sure.
(reviewed 26 days after purchase)
XchylerConn reviewed on March 31, 2011

I thought it was a great short story, with an excellent meaning behind it.

Join Vince and Tommy as they mix their life styles together. Vince, the stupid jock, who is always up for adventure, and Tommy, the brainic, who would rather be laying in bed reading a book or watching a movie. Vince decides that he needs to break Tommy out of his secure bubble by taking him camping.... in the middle of winter. The night did not start out to bad, that is until the blizzard hit and they had an unexpected guest.

But these two boys, could doing the opposite of what many people would do, make it impossible for these two to make it through the night?
(reviewed 18 days after purchase)
Jackie Goodman reviewed on March 16, 2011

Snow Burn is a suspense novel, and suspense the novel does deliver! My only complaint is I wish the suspense started sooner. But, as soon as the boys found themselves in one sticky situation after another, I wasn’t able to click the next button on my Nook fast enough. There were several points in the storyline where I thought, “Okay! This is it! All heck is about to break loose!” But then the situation of diffuse only to build back up again. It was like a roller coaster (that was totally a cliché simile, but it’s true)!

This novel instilled in me a sense of nostalgia, especially at the beginning when Tommy, the narrator and member of a high school drumline, is talking about the Friday night football game. Everything in this scene was vividly described (as all scenes were throughout the book), and being apart of marching band (I was in color guard), I understood everything the narrator was talking about. Ah, the good ol’ days.

The dialogue in Snow Burn brought me back to high school too, but this was a little more hit and miss for me. I thought the dialogue between the teenage boys was realistic, so I imagine adolescent girls will exercise the occasional eye roll, and under their breaths they will sign and mutter, “Boys…”. This book is definitely geared towards teenage boys.

The characterization was good. I’m still going back and forth in my mind about my feelings toward Tommy. Part of me thinks he’s too bland; he’s a couch potato, he plays it safe, he’s a geek. But the other part of me realizes the ending wouldn’t have made the same impact if he were any other way. Vince, Tommy’s friend, and Quinn, the convict, evoked a greater emotion out of me though. Vince’s story is much more interesting; he’s a first generation Cambodian-American, he’s a star football player with a “handicap”. And even though Vince is such a likable guy, there were times when I wanted to punch him as badly as the narrator did. As for Quinn…well, he made me cringe; he’s no Professor Umbridge, but he is up there with the Motor City Hammer and Charlie Pinkeye (who if you remember, I wanted to tie to trees and feed to the zoms).

What I appreciated above all though was how thought-provoking the book was. Snow Burn book poses a number of questions about humanity. If facing a situation where either decision has a potential negative outcome, how does one make the right decision? If an individual is a threat to society and is in danger, is it possible for another to look past that fact to lend a helping hand? While the novel is written in first person, the narrator, Tommy, occasionally addresses the reader—“What would you do if…”. 2nd person narration is tricky, but I think the author executes it well, and it is relevant to the storyline. All of the questions posed tie into the ending, which I have to say, was totally unexpected!
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)
Sarah (Workaday Reads) reviewed on March 13, 2011

Tommy and Vince are teenage boys who go camping when Vince's parents go away one weekend. They get caught in a blizzard, and end up stranded with a convict on the run. Will they survive the weekend?

I was impressed with this story. It seems like a natural telling from a teenaged boy. The language and thought process were very smooth and logical. There was humour and emotion, and it all seemed very reasonable, like something that could actually happen.

It is a short story, but packed full of action and emotion. It flowed quickly and easily.

I loved the progression of the what if scenario. As the story advances, the scenario changes to reflect the current situation. If you stop to think of what you'd actually do, it could reveal a lot of how you think and see others.

I think that early teen boys would really like the story, and could easily identify with it. I could see an enterprising teacher or tutor using the what if scenarios to prompt a written response from the reader. It would be a great way to get the reader to identify with and examine the story in more detail. As well as explore what they would be in the situation, and how their answer might change as the situation changes. Any story that creates that type of involvement is a great read.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)
Tiffany Turner reviewed on March 13, 2011

I enjoyed this YA for the suspenseful situation that the author creates. It's a predictable event, but executed in a way that drives the reader to the solution. I couldn't stop turning the pages. I usually don't enjoy realistic fiction, but found this story propelled me forward to it's climax. There was a bit of a let down in the ending, again predictable. But it did seem necessary to the theme of the book. Teenagers that enjoy realistic fiction and survival stories should enjoy this one. I think even adults will find this a quick, but interesting read.
(reviewed 35 days after purchase)
Mary Endersbe reviewed on March 9, 2011

Snow Burn is a novel about two teen boys who decide to go on a winter adventure without their parents’ knowledge and end up getting into way more trouble than they could have ever imagined. What seems like a harmless adventure turns into a nightmare when the boys find a half-frozen man and decide to help him and things end up taking a scary turn, forcing the boys to see how far they will go to save their lives. Told from a high-school boy’s perspective, the story telling is very true to life and the characters are well developed. The conversations in the book reminded me of all the guy talk I overheard in the halls in my high school. From the first page, the author had my attention. The characters were likable, very believable and the story unique and entertaining. In a world full of novels directed at teen girls and bookshelves that seem to be full of fantasy and science fiction for teen boys, to have such a believable, unique story and well-written book aimed at mid-teen boys is very refreshing. I have read a few other books by this same author and have always found his writing to be exceptional and have never been disappointed. Snow Burn is a book that I would highly recommend to anyone, especially for the teen boy looking for something original, entertaining and fast-paced; you will not be disappointed.
(reviewed 25 days after purchase)
A. J. Braithwaite reviewed on Dec. 28, 2010

A quick read, at under 30,000 words, but an enjoyable one. Two teenage boys, camping in the snow, rescue a man who turns out to be an escaped convict. One of the boys is the son of Cambodian refugees, who believes that everyone has the capacity to act well. This belief is sorely tested when the convict decides that his only means of escape will be to dispose of his rescuers...

Believable characters and dialogue, with a good introduction to ethical questions as a side order.
(reviewed 18 days after purchase)
Candy Beauchamp reviewed on Sep. 16, 2010

I enjoyed this one as far as the plot goes. It's a bit of a warning tale for teenagers to listen to their parents (or maybe that's how I read it because I'm a parent - not of a teenager yet, oh my!). I think you know the outcome, but not how we get there, which was quite a fun ride.

This young adult short story's plot is well thought-out. I think this would be a great book for a fourteen to seventeen year old boy. I'm actually amazed that more books aren't written specifically for boys in that age group so I was excited to see and review this one. I can see a young man enjoying the plot points and following along with Vince and Tommy as they get themselves into deeper and deeper trouble. I felt the writing itself was decently realistic.

There were a few minor issues for me. I thought the dialogue could be a bit stilted. I sometimes felt like the back and forth exchange of words weren't following each other - it seemed as though they were speaking separately but at the same time, if that makes sense. I didn't feel like they were responding to the conversation. My other problem was the editing of the chapter breaks. They seemed extremely random and out of place in many instances. A good editor could have cleaned that up a bit for the author.

I will say that I really enjoyed the "what if" scenarios that the author presented us with sprinkled throughout the text. It did make me think and want to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next. I also really enjoyed the character of Vince and I found myself really wanting to know more about him. I would love it if the author were to give us some more short stories - or perhaps a full-length novel with this character in it.

Overall, worth a read for teenage boys or people who enjoy a good YA novel for boys.
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)
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