YA Weekend: Alive by Scott Sigler

A review copy was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Alive2Alive by Scott Sigler

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Series: Book 1 of The Generations Trilogy

Publisher: Del Rey (July 14, 2015)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I’ve been dreading the thought of writing this review for a while, because I know it’s going to be a doozy. For one thing, I just know I’m going to come off sounding way more negative about this book than I mean to – which just kills me because there’s actually a lot to like here. Sadly, I just can’t talk about any of it. None at all. Yes, you heard that right; most of the good stuff is spoiler territory, so you’re all just going to have to bear with me.

You know how everyone has been saying that the less you know about Alive before going in, the better? Listen to them; they’re absolutely right. The best part about reading this book was being wrapped up in the mystery, slowly gaining more answers the farther into the story you get. However, this does make for a pretty rough beginning, and a fair bit of patience and investment is required to get to the payoff.

First of all, the book starts off sounding like it was written by a twelve-year-old. However, I’m not sure if this even counts as a criticism. Yes, it was maddening, but at the same time also very appropriate. Alive is told through the eyes of a girl who wakes up on her twelfth birthday, but she has no recollection of who she is or what her life was like before she went to sleep. She finds herself in darkness, trapped in an enclosed space that feels disturbingly like a coffin. After breaking out, she realizes something feels seriously wrong. She is supposed to be twelve, but her body looks like it should belong to someone older, like a woman in her late teens or early twenties. She then finds a plaque engraved with her name at the foot of her coffin – M. Savage.

Dubbing herself “Em”, the girl looks around the room and sees it lined with dozens more coffins like hers, but only a handful of them contain other survivors. All of them look physically like young adults, but they also say the same thing as Em – today is their twelfth birthday, and none of them can remember how they ended up in their coffins. In the end, only six of them emerged; everyone else is dead and shriveled in their receptacles or lying on the ground in piles of bone and ash. Because she was the first to break out and wake the others, Em assumes the role of leader of their little group. Now she bears the responsibility of their survival, but they’ll first have to learn to trust each other and work together if they’re all going to make it out alive.

So, probably the most trying part of the book was the first hundred pages or so. It was a little like reading Lord of the Flies except we’re in a labyrinth-like setting and the characters are all pre-teens trapped in the bodies of Abercrombie & Fitch models. Em cannot seem to go five pages without remarking on how strikingly beautiful every one of her companions are, and as a leader she keeps making one terrible decision after another. Like I said, mentally Em is only twelve years old. I’m still not sure how to judge her language, thoughts and actions when they are probably consistent with what the author thinks a tween girl should sound like. Still, I think the writing style will be the biggest hurdle for some readers, since Em also strikes me as an especially petulant and somewhat naïve child with her constant obsession to be in charge.

In spite of it all, the book grew on me. After the midway point, the story gets substantially better as we find out more about the survivors’ situation. I can’t say more without giving too much away though, which is always every book reviewer’s quandary (I’m ever striving to keep my reviews spoiler-free anyway, but in this case Scott Sigler even has a whole afterword imploring readers not to spoil anything via the internet, so I’ll take extra precautions and simply avoid talking anymore about the plot). Suffice to say, in time we do get enough information to piece together some answers. And it ends up being pretty cool.

I discovered afterward that Alive is apparently part of a series called the Generations trilogy. Even so, it could work as a self-contained novel. In light of everything that happened in this book though, I don’t think I can bring myself to stop with just one. I’m very curious to find out what will happen next, so I will most definitely pick up the sequel.

90b91-new3-5stars

 

12 Comments on “YA Weekend: Alive by Scott Sigler”

  1. It sounds difficult to really get into the book. I didn’t know about this one, many points to note but it’s nice that despite all that it was ok in a whole.

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  2. It sounds like the concept of writing a character who looks one age but acts another is tricky to pull off. I had requested this from NG a long time ago but they never responded to my request. At this point I’m OK with that!

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    • I have another friend who has been waiting a while on a pending request from Del Rey on NetGalley, so maybe they’re just a little backed up. I do hope you get approved soon and you get a chance to check this out though, I’d be interested to see your thoughts.

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  3. Yeah, I saw this on NG but I’ve been so silly recently and requested more than I should that I decided no more requests because frankly I wouldn’t be able to read them all.
    This actually does sound intriguing though. I’ll probably wait until the series moves on and see how you feel about it then.
    It’s funny how you can enjoy a book but your criticisms can make it sound otherwise. I enjoyed Darkhaven recently – I had a few quibbles and by the time I’d written the review I wondered if I came across as really negative – which I really didn’t intend at all.
    It’s even more difficult though when you’re writing a review, with criticisms, and you can’t really discuss the positive content because of spoilers.
    Well done.
    Lynn 😀

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    • Thank you, it was difficult to say the least! I hope I did this book justice in my review, because while I had some nitpicks, all the stuff I couldn’t talk about is actually really interesting. There are some cool twists in here.

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  4. Lovely review Mogsy, despite the challenges that you faced in writing it, not being able to talk to much about the plot and whatnot. Some books are like that though: you simply can not discuss the finer details in the review without spoilers. Anyway, you did a GREAT job of it! I’ve only heard about this book recently but I feel like reading this^^ has given me a clear idea of what to expect going in. I’m glad that you ended up enjoying this one despite the initial struggle 🙂

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  5. Glad to see that you will be continuing the trilogy as it comes. I just can’t go on. I’m impatient as all hell when it comes to reading. I think that if I had been blown away before the 50% mark, I’d have probably liked it more – maybe even loved it by the end. Sadly, I just have to give up after this book. Great review!

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  6. Pingback: Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: New Books & What I’ve Read | The BiblioSanctum

  7. Pingback: YA Weekend: Alight by Scott Sigler | The BiblioSanctum

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