Ali Dean is a young adult and romance author, who enjoys sport (especially skiing), writing and reading… She is also the author of Pepper Jones collection, which were her first series and debut in writing.
Black Diamond is the first book in Stark Springs Academy series and follows Roxanne, who doesn’t come from the richest family with best connections, but she loves to ski, so the scholarship from Stark Academy comes as a blessing and a chance to get better at skiing up to a high professional level. Many Olympians are and have been learning and training there and the school is known for its ability to train the best Winter Athletes. But once Roxie arrives at the school, it is completely different than her regular public school – the people seem to blindly follow unwritten rules set out by a student Ryker Black and Roxie finds out that if she won’t follow them, she will be kicked out of the school – scholarship or not…
This is the first book by the author I’ve read and I started it a while ago. It was quite a terrible start and after the first few chapters of utter nonsense, unbelievable, stupid and terrible events and writing I put the book down, thinking that I will never finish it and will simply erase it from my memory. But I was struggling so much with And I Darken, that I decided to take a break from it and read this one, hoping that, you know, it will be so bad, that And I Darken will call for me again. I don’t know, if it was the fact that the worst part was over or I was already used to it – it didn’t seem that terrible and hard to read anymore, it actually seemed interesting.
So, once I got into the book, it was a lot easier to read and it was a fast read, as teenage romances usually are. The writing didn’t seem too bad anymore, but the plot wasn’t the best.
Teen romances are usually a hit or miss for me, but this was somewhere in the middle. I couldn’t really relate to the characters too much, I didn’t like the shift – they were sometimes sharp, sometimes caring and loving, there wasn’t much consistency or reason for it.
I somehow could understand and like Ryker, but, well, it doesn’t change the fact that the whole thing is just unbelievable and silly and both protagonists got some feelings (love, hate etc. teen drama emotions) from nowhere at all – like there’s no base for loving or hating each other… at all.
The reason I picked up this book in the first place, definitely was winter sports. I have never done any training, just some bits here and there for fun, but I really like watching hockey and skating. And the book gives fair amount of snow activities and an insight into training, but as the whole environment and situation in the book seems to be so unbelievable, I’m not entirely sure, if I can trust the book to explain me things about winter sport training.
There was one bit that I really appreciated though and I felt a little bit like it was worth reading the book because of it. Next paragraph will contain a spoiler, so skip over it, if you are planing to read this book, if you read it, it might ruin it for you, just know, I thought the book had an amazing, amazing plot twist.
I was expecting that something bad will happen, when the girls offered Roxie truce and said that they are sick of everything Ryker does. And well, of course, they were a bunch of bitches, but Roxie was expecting that too, so she wouldn’t be caught unguarded. Yet, she was! And leaving her on that mountain in snow cold was savage. It was just such an emotional roller coaster, where Roxie was strong, she was fighting not only for the chance to get back, she was fighting to survive all by herself there. And that moment left me shocked, but in a really good way, it was a juicy bit, an excellent driver for this story. Don’t get me wrong, sure it might be unbelievable, blah, blah, but that was not what mattered at that moment. What mattered is – what is going to happen? Will she get off? Will she survive? Will Ryker know? Was he behind it? Will she leave the school? What the hell is going to happen? And I absolutely loved how this thing worked Roxie up so much, that she trained like hell, she had motivation, strength and no distractions. I loved that Roxanne, she was awesome.
Because I kind of didn’t remember the beginning, I was tempted to give a good rating to this book, but just because I ditched the book to pick it up from slightly better position, doesn’t mean that suddenly it has to have an awesome rating. So, that scene and the events following it was something I absolutely loved about this book, but everything else was kind of meh. So, it received two stars from me, yet, I am going to read the second book for sure, hoping for some more flashes of something that will be fantastic.
I am pleasantly surprised that something that I categorise as chick lit/teen romance actually had a scene that I loved and that I thought was crafted just fine. Sadly I cannot say that about the whole book, but, hey, one step at a time. This is a book for teens. I don’t think that romance and chick lit readers would like this one too much, but, if you have read it and liked or disliked it, let me know in the comments, I am super thirsty for opinions about the scene I described and general thoughts on the book.