Written by: Scott Sigler
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Young Adult/ Science Fiction/ Trilogy
From New York Times bestselling author Scott Sigler comes something utterly new: a gripping sci-fi adventure trilogy in the vein of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. A group of young adults awake in a mysterious enclosed space with no knowledge of who they are or how they got there…and an indomitable young woman must lead them not only to answers but to survival.
A young woman awakes trapped in an enclosed space. She has no idea who she is or how she got there. With only her instincts to guide her, she escapes her own confinement—and finds she’s not alone. She frees the others in the room and leads them into a corridor filled with the remains of a war long past. The farther these survivors travel, the worse are the horrors they confront. And as they slowly come to understand what this prison is, they realize that the worst and strangest possibilities they could have imagined don’t even come close to the truth
“If you run, your enemy will hunt you. Kill your enemy, and you are forever free.”
This year at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle the ladies and I came home with a bunch of books. Alive was one of them. Now, sometimes there are books that don’t quite work for you and yet they linger. You don’t hate them, but you don’t like them either. Alive was like that for me.
Now the less you know about alive the better so as of this point do not read ahead unless you want some minor spoilers. You have been warned. Again, turn back now if you don’t want to know anything about the book. I won’t give it all away but there will be discussions. Still with me. Okay, here we go.
A young woman wakes up in a coffin on what she thinks is her twelfth birthday. She remembers very little and takes the name EM only after seeing the nameplate ‘M. Savage’ on the coffin she broke out of. She is also not alone. Some are dead, some are alive, but none understand what is going on. And their bodies are not that of twelve year olds, but almost grown young adults. Where are they? What are the strange markings on their foreheads for? What happened to them? And where are the adults?
The need for food and water forces them out of the strange temple structure they found themselves in. As they explore their surroundings they find the dusty bones of a forgotten war and wonder where they fit into all of it. It becomes a race for answers and survival.
Things I liked: This was such an odd book and an even odder one to review. On one hand the pacing was quick (I finished it in one sitting), the overall story interesting, and the lead character great. However, the prose was lackluster, the 12 year old mind in a 20 year old body laughable and weird, and well…I just wanted and expected more I suppose. It was all so disjointed I think. Ah, but the good.
Em’s narrative is fairly solid. She is flawed. She makes mistakes. She questions her decisions. She emotes in ways I expect her to. I could feel for Em and sympathize with her and her situation. Like I said, I really like Em, but alas she is really the only character that gets any real character development. Maybe I am only supposed to care about her and not the secondary characters though. Not sure, guess I will have to find out. The other characters are sadly just default cookie cutter types that must be on a checklist somewhere. You have the beautiful geeky girl who is tech savy, the religious zealot, the bully, the gorgeous emo love interest…etc.
I love the Dungeon Crawl aspect as they explore their surroundings never knowing what lies in the dark or waits around the next corner. I like that they wake up in what they think is a temple surrounded by strange glyphs on the walls. And yet there is technology. I like that when Em wakes up we know about as much as she does. Through her first person narrative we discover things as she does. I loved the Lord of the Flies like power struggles, the search for answers in an environment that had me guessing. Even some of the twists were great. You have to admit that it is an intriguing premise. One that I really wanted to like, but was not executed the way I have come to expect from Sigler. Ugh you have such strong points ALIVE, and then some really, really low ones. I know this is Book One of a planned trilogy and I hope that they get better. I want it to get better now that we have this awkward installment out of the way. And yet it was necessary, oh so necessary. Sigh.
Things I didn’t like so much: Ugh, enough with the love triangles in young adult novels. It’s a trope that I am getting tired of. It’s what I left the majority of urban fantasy for young adult. Maybe this is what the majority of readers want to read, but I think it is tired and cheapens the story. You don’t need it in the book. It doesn’t strengthen any of the characters by including it. It makes it even worse when the boys are indescribable beautiful. While I understand it may be confusing having a rush of adult hormones on your 12 year old psyche, but did her insides need to shiver constantly? Did all of the kids need to be full of heaving, bouncing chests and rippling toned muscles? They have been in stasis after all (Does this mean that if I go into stasis I can gain a killer bod, cause take my money right now if this is true) Did she have to choose between the werewolf and the vampire…I mean the emo kid and the less emo kid? Sigh again.
The writing style just killed me. The whole 12 year old voice and narration is irritating, laughable, ridiculous. Are tweens this childish and hormone obsessed? Are they also that naïve and stupid? I don’t remember being this way but maybe I am just too damn old and cannot remember. Even more frustrating is that the voice is not consistent. Sometimes I felt like the voice was younger and then other times that of a more mature 16 year old. It was incredibly jarring and took me out of the book. It made me laugh, and not in good ways. I think it would have been better for them all to think it was their 16th birthday and wake up in bodies that were that of mid-twenties. A small change like that would have made me like it oh so much more. You’d still have the jarring differences, perhaps the lack of teenage baby fat and acne, or a few inches taller than you remembered last looking in the mirror. Yes, this was that big of an annoyance for me.
Buy or Borrow: Borrow.
Part of: Ongoing Series
Alive: Book One
Alight: Book Two
Alone: Book Three (Coming in 2017)
Also Recommended: If you haven’t yet read The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, please do for more dystopian goodness. Red Rising by Pierce Brown is excellent. You might also like The Maze Runner series by James Dashner, and the Divergent series by Veronica Roth
3 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks