Some people might say that Denver had a death wish. Why else would she have dared to sneak into a Malibu beach party where she’d be surrounded by enemies, namely including her ex-BFF Abigail? Oh yeah. Croix. Denver never thought in a million years he’d ask her out, but who was she to question this miracle of fate? Well, that wasn’t the only surprise fate had in store. During the party a tsunami hit the coast of California, wiping out everything in its path. Denver and a handful of others escaped death by holding onto the roof of the house and were swept out to sea. Of course, one of her fellow castaways was none other than Abigail, who could barely stand the sight of her. Now that she’s floating in the ocean, stuck on a small boat with the most popular kids in school and waiting to be rescued, Denver wonders what might kill her first-dehydration, sunstroke, or the girl she used to think of as a sister? A hilariously dark and twisted story that sparkles with a remarkably fresh voice, The Lifeboat Clique is Kathy Park’s irreverent yet insightful novel about how to survive in the most unthinkable circumstances.
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Denver is not so lucky. She gets caught right in the middle of a tsunami and is taken out into the sea. The story reminds me a little bit of THE CAY, except for many key differences. She is stuck with four popular kids, a ton of nightmares after seeing the deaths of her fellow classmates (and one crush), and a terrible boat with no motor. Struggling against all odds to make the shore alive, Denver and her very strange gang of survivalists have to do some pretty disgusting things to live. (Eating raw fish is included.)
(So there is a bit of THE CAY and THE LIFE OF PI in this book.)
The plot has two major parts. One tells the story of Denver right before that nasty kidnapping by the tsunami. The other one centers on Denver's relationship with the popular kids and their attempt to survive in the open sea. The adventure of finding the safe beach will appeal to those who love conflicts between man and nature itself. The other plot (which tells of Denver's past with her ex-best friend) will be more about her social life and why she is the way she is in the present. Both of them are vital to the story, and they keep the tension up, never letting the moment slide into boredom.
Denver is smart, and though she does have her moments of teenager!girl, she shows maturity at the most defining times and becomes a leader for the strange band of survivors on that boat. She changes slowly throughout the course of the book, and it is most definitely for the better.
The world building of the California the book paints is most definitely not the California I'm living in. For one thing, no one is really, really obsessed with spray tans and high fashion clothing. (We don't care if those shoes are Prada as long as you don't stick out while walking in them. If you're in them while walking on the beach... Oh, you're totally in trouble. And by the way, our beaches are filled with little kids, middle-aged people, and college kids. Teens are hanging out at the darn mall again.) But the pettiness of the popular crowd is partially on point.
In conclusion, THE LIFEBOAT CLIQUE, which is YA Contemporary with a dash of Adventure, is for those who love stories in line of THE HUNGER GAMES, THE CAY, and THE LIFE OF PI. It's a story that'll entertain.
Rating: Three out of Five
Going into this one, this seemed like the type of book I could end up enjoying. It seemed like it would be a lighter read, even with the disaster aspect, due to the humour and I was hopeful for a Breakfast Club type feel. I thought it did a good job contrasting the dark humour and lighter tone with the serious, life-endangering situation the teens found themselves in.
I liked Denver’s voice as the main character of the book. She had a bit of survival knowledge from watching things like the Discovery channel or reading books but she didn’t turn into an expert survivalist just because the situation needed her to. She wasn’t afraid to speak up for herself when she knew what to do, even though it meant arguing with the others in the boat, and I loved her dry, sarcastic comments through the book. Her voice reminded me of Veronica Mars in a lot of ways and that’s always a plus for me.
Along with the survival aspect of the plot, there was also the mystery of what happened between Denver and Abigail that caused their friendship to break up. There were flashbacks so we saw how their friendship progressed, where it started to change, and finally what the big event was that tore them apart. The flashbacks also helped develop the two girls as characters since there wasn’t a lot of developing happening in the present, especially for the other three teens on the boat. For the most part, they were just there. There was the jock and the two sidekicks of the main mean girl. There were a few moments of insights into each one but not enough for them to feel like fully developed characters in their own right.
Even with its light tone and humour, the book brought up a lot of good points about social structure in high school and its pointlessness and did so without feeling like an after-school special. I would have liked more depth in the other characters but overall, it was a surprisingly fun read for such a dark plot.