For fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Red Rising comes a gripping sci-fi adventure in which a group of teenagers wake up in a mysterious corridor with no knowledge of who they are or how they got trapped. Their only hope lies with an indomitable young woman who must lead them not only to answers but to survival. “I open my eyes to darkness. Total darkness. I hear my own breathing, but nothing else. I lift my head . . . it thumps against something solid and unmoving. There is a board right in front of my face. No, not a board . . . a lid.” A teenage girl awakens to find herself trapped in a coffin. She has no idea who she is, where she is, or how she got there. Fighting her way free brings little relief—she discovers only a room lined with caskets and a handful of equally mystified survivors. Beyond their room lies a corridor filled with bones and dust, but no people . . . and no answers. She knows only one thing about herself—her name, M. Savage, which was engraved on the foot of her coffin—yet she finds herself in charge. She is not the biggest among them, or the boldest, but for some reason the others trust her. Now, if they’re to have any chance, she must get them to trust one another. Whatever the truth is, she is determined to find it and confront it. If she has to lead, she will make sure they survive. Maybe there’s a way out, a rational explanation, and a fighting chance against the dangers to come. Or maybe a reality they cannot comprehend lies just beyond the next turn.
If you’re a fan of the recent trend in Lord Of The Flies inspired survivalist-themed YA, this book may be right up your alley.
As the back blurb indicates, Alive utilizes the increasingly popular trope of placing readers in the proverbial shoes of a nearly blank slate character—in this case, a girl with basic skills, personality, and awareness but no background or memory to speak of. This dystopian sci-fi tale is presented from the first-person (present-tense) perspective of M. Savage, a level-headed and calculating girl of indeterminate age and origins, who finds herself leading a band of similarly amnesic youths through a death-encrusted labyrinth.
The advantage of this type of plot unfolding is that the reader is making discoveries and building up the world in their mind at the same time as the heroine. The disadvantages being it can sometimes feel like a contrived game of information keep-away. It’s also difficult to gauge characters motivations and sympathize with their past experiences, given we’re not offered insight into their past—if it indeed exists. The author generally maintains a tricky balance, beginning with characters who mentally believe they are twelve-year-olds, but who clearly have the bodies and hormones in the 18-20 range.
The writing and internal dialogue starts off simplistic and grows with the characters, to some extent. The present-tense handling actually bothered this reader less than it typically does, which says something for Sigler’s storytelling. The characterization was consistent and diverse in representation, offering believable sociological dynamics among perpetually stressed and confused human beings. Em, as the main character ends up calling herself, is somewhat relatable in her drive and thought process—neither passive nor aggressive, but capable of whatever seems necessary to achieve her objectives.
There’s a sort of Maze Runner meets Pandorum ultimate feel. Nothing stood out as particularly original—the plot coming off more as a borrowed amalgamation of tired and true ideas. The science aspect is often dim or simply skipped over in the name of immediate survival, ethical quandaries are frequently touched on to only a pragmatic depth, and a number of things remained unanswered at the end. But there’s enough closure that readers will at least know what’s going on and why, as well as the promise that there is more of the story to anticipate.
On the whole, an entertaining read. Those who either enjoyed Maze Runner, or liked the premise but didn’t care much for the execution, will want to give this one a try.
Let me begin by saying that I have mixed emotions about Alive. While I was intrigued by the plot and captivated by the premise of the book, I could have just as easily put it down and walked away from it as well. I’m not sure if it is because I don’t normally read Sci-Fi or because it is not my preferred genre, but this book just didn’t work for me. When I read a book and I’m really entertained by the story, I can’t stop thinking about it. I love when a book has the ability to completely draw you in but unfortunately this one didn’t, and that really disappointed me. Because I could not connect with the characters emotionally, I felt as if I never really got to know them. Alive was very similar to the Maze Runner in the sense that there were many different characters involved in the storyline. The author did a great job in the presentation of the characters because having so many never became confusing or overwhelming. That being said, I was still unable to relate to the protagonist and I guess that is what made it difficult to enjoy. I admire that the story was very entertaining however, I wish that at least one of the characters was likable. I feel that Scott Sigler’s ability to tell a story and weave together an interesting and intricate plot was this book’s strong point. The book is split up into three parts. After the first part I was ready to DNF because I was not connecting with the story. Thank goodness that I didn’t put it down because parts two and three totally made up for the slow pace of part one. I became very involved in the plot and it held my interest. The revelation at the end of the story was a completely unexpected twist that I really enjoyed . In conclusion I just felt that the story was lacking in likable characters. I would however definitely recommend it to a sci-fi lover because I’m sure that they would really enjoy reading Alive.