It Looks Like Us by Alison Ames
Exciting and horrifying plot along the lines of John Carpenter’s The Thing and Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None with very likable YA characters.
The ad was for a two-week summer stay in Antarctica as part of a young adult scientific data collection team offered by the auto tech billionaire Anton Rusk. And after the horrible school year, she’d just completed, Riley Kowalski jumped to apply. It’s just what she needed, a chance to get away, a new start with people who had not witnessed her humiliating and debilitating panic attack in the hallway at school that day. Soon she found herself at Victoria Station in one of the loneliest places on Earth, with four other student workers, an unfriendly chaperone from the sponsoring company, and the lone scientist leading the two-week project.
Riley and the others were impressed by the sumptuous luxury of the accommodations that greeted them at the SladeTech facility: lots of unexpected amenities, and everything was plush. The following day they were quickly trained and began their duties by taking ice core samples to be examined for microplastics eventually. The work wasn’t difficult, the conditions were good, and everyone seemed to mesh well and get along. Riley and Luke, another student worker, struck up a friendship early on, relieving some of Riley’s anxiety that she didn’t fit in.
Things fell into a routine until one day, while out collecting samples, the group caught a glimpse of an odd snake-like creature that disappeared down into the surface of the ice. Up to this point, they’d not seen a single other sign of life, not even a penguin, and when they investigated, it appeared the creature had bored its way through the ice somehow! However, that evening another animal was seen briefly through the station’s common room window. With dim light conditions and the creature at a distance, no one got a good look, but the thing seemed to be watching the students.
However, things took a horrifying left turn when Greta, the scientist, returned from a trip to retrieve supplies from their drop point. Not only was she dangerously late getting back, but she did not seem herself when she returned. Later, after everyone had gone to sleep, Riley was awakened by an odd noise in the hall outside her dorm room. Getting up to investigate, she saw Greta, wearing only her sleepwear, standing outside on the ice ground surrounding the station. Was she sleepwalking? But as Riley watched and wondered if she should wake Luke to help her get the woman back inside before she froze to death, Greta dropped to all fours, her arms and legs bending in directions they were never meant to go, her face taking on the shape of a muzzle before her very eyes!
It Looks Like Us was an exciting and fun horror story, with the vibes of the movie by John Carpenter, The Thing, and hints of the great Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. I loved the whole setting of a remote science facility in Antarctica and the part the wealthy Anton Rusk plays in putting the teen characters there. These young adult characters represent a variety of personalities, backgrounds, races, and even sexual identities. But no matter their backstory, each one was engaging in their own way and easy to like.
The story fell within both the mystery and horror genres, and both were well developed. The action was non-stop, and there were shocking twists and turns throughout that kept me glued to the pages. The author inserted bits of factual information about Antarctica that I found interesting. However, it is the horror elements that take centerstage. They were imaginative and frightening, and I wish I hadn’t started the book right before bedtime. For those that need to know, as the action and tension ramps up, so does the use of expletives, including some heavy-duty choices.
With its exciting, non-stop action and engaging young adult heroines and heroes, I recommend IT LOOKS LIKE US to readers who enjoy young adult fiction, mystery, and horror stories or are intrigued by a story set in Antarctica.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author or publisher through NetGalley and TBR and Beyond Book Tours.