Robie was not an easy protagonist to like. A little younger than most YA protagonist's I read about, at fifteen Robie was quite immature. Knowing her best chance of survival is to lessen the weight in the raft, she decides to toss an unconscious Max overboard, leaving him tied behind the raft in a lifejacket to float along behind her. This is after she goes through his personal belongings and eats half of his Skittles. Later, we watch her catch and eat a fish, without bothering to try and wake up Max to offer him some before it spoiled in the sun's heat. She feels pangs of guilt over her actions, but justifies them as part of her quest for survival. So while I can mostly understand her reasoning, I had a hard time relating to her decisions.
She was also quite a monotone protagonist, with understated reactions to extreme situations being the norm. Unless she was concerned about a tiger shark attack, not much fazed her. She remarked on her surroundings and chances of survival with an almost calculated apathy, and Max's declining health was of little consequence. Further, much of Robie's time spent floating at sea was passed with seemingly endless facts about the surrounding marine life - what types of fish were toxic, why coral reef was so deadly, the mating and migrating habits of the Albatross, the penalty of interfering with a near-extinct type of seal, and the list goes on. While a part of me found the random facts to be interesting, there was also a part of me that had to fight against skipping whole paragraphs of dull and useless information.
Max's role in The Raft was haphazard and scattered, with him regaining consciousness for brief periods where he would continue to share his life's story. He was conveniently conscious when Robie needed a push to do something, or when she was feeling the most lonely. He was never really developed as a character, and so I had little sympathy for him or his past.
Even though the majority of the book is spent in a raft, Bodeen's pacing was spot-on, allowing for a suspenseful read. I waited for the next obstacle for Robie to overcome with bated breath, always questioning if the next obstacle would be her undoing. I enjoyed seeing the depths to which Robie was able to push herself - both mentally and physically - in order to survive, and her quick-thinking saved her life in several situations. But with The Raft's ending came a "shocking" twist that revealed a truth about Robie that was slightly disturbing. Without getting in to spoilers, I'll just say that after almost two weeks at sea, her physical health isn't the only thing that her parents should be worried about!
A quick read, I enjoyed The Raft. Robie was not my favourite protagonist, but I watched with an almost morbid fascination as she fought the elements in order to survive. Even though I saw the twist coming, I still enjoyed watching Robie come to terms with its' consequences. If you're looking for a quick and entertaining read, The Raft might be just what you need!