I eat up books set in my geographic region: Alaska and the Circumpolar North.
These recent reads are both young adult novels.
From the backcover of The Trap by John Smelcer: Seventeen-year-old Johnny Least Weasel knows that his grandfather, Albert, is a stubborn old man and won’t stop checking his own traplines even though other men his age stopped doing so years ago. But Albert Least-Weasel has been running traplines in the Alaskan wilderness alone for the past sixty years. Nothing has ever gone wrong on the trail he knows so well. When Albert doesn’t come back from checking his traps one day, and with the temperature steadily plummeting, Johnny must decide quickly whether to trust his grandfather or his own instincts.
From the jackflap of Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick: In an isolated cabin in an Arctic wilderness, 14-year-old Sig is alone with a corpse: his father, who has fallen through the ice on the lake outside and frozen to death only hours earlier. Then, out of the Arctic darkness, comes a stranger: a terrifying giant of a man claiming that Sig’s father owes him a share of a horde of stolen gold–and threatens awful violence if Sig doesn’t reveal the gold’s whereabouts.
Both of these stories take place over the course of just a few days where well-developed characters drive relentless plots. And, the clencher for me in terms of what separates good from great–they both make full use of the setting in haunting and beautiful ways.