YA Weekend: Alight by Scott Sigler
A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Series: Book 2 of The Generations Trilogy
Publisher: Del Rey (April 5, 2016)
Length: 448 pages
Oh Scott Sigler, you have to stop writing books where the amazing parts are all spoilers! The things I want to praise and gush about in here would lead to too many plot reveals, so nope nope nope I’m not going to do it. Suffice to say, much like the first book Alive, the less you know going into Alight the better.
And that’s not all this sequel has in common with its predecessor. Alight carries on the horror-mystery tradition established in Alive, and even adopts a similar story structure. Our main character “Em” and dozens of others like her, known as the “Birthday children”, woke up in coffins with no memories of who they were before they went to sleep. Now they have more answers, but that hasn’t stopped the danger or their fight for survival.
In fact, their situation has only gotten worse. We know some things about our characters’ origins now, but we still don’t have the full picture, and the strange place Em finds herself in Alight plunges us back into the dark. New questions arise when what she thought was going to be a sanctuary turns out to be a death trap, with no food or safe shelter. What’s the story behind this alien jungle, with its peculiar ruins and exotic creatures and plants? The kids have also traded one monster for another, escaping their old enemies to end up deep in the territory of unknown and potentially hostile race. Worst of all, Em’s authority is still being challenged by her biggest detractor, who is relentless in trying to turn everyone against her by sowing doubt and fear. Em is trying her best to hold everything together but her grip on control is slowly slipping, and all the while she is struggling to remember her past and come to terms with the truth of who she is.
First things first: I definitely enjoyed this one more than Alive. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to continue the series, until I got to the end of the first book and the potential for the sequel was too much to resist. Even though book one works perfectly fine as a stand alone, Sigler finished it up by dangling all these tasty possibilities in front of my face and so I just had to know what would happen to Em and her friends. Alight satisfied that curiosity and gave me a lot more than that besides, and I’m very glad I picked it up.
Still, because this sequel is the beginning of another journey, there is again a fair bit of setup and the reveals are slow in coming. Like Alive, some patience is required to get to the good parts in Alight. About a third of the way through though, it feels like the story finally hits its stride, and even the writing style smooths out, becoming less stilted and distracting. As readers of the first book would recall, Em has the mind of a twelve-year-old inside a body that is in her late teens. The way she spoke, thought, and acted was probably the most grating aspect in Alive because Em was a petulant, naïve girl who only seemed to care about being “the leader”. Alight was much better because simply put, Em grew up. As the story progressed and our main protagonist started remembering more about herself, her mental maturity ended up catching up as well.
The second half of this novel therefore reads a lot more smoothly than the first half, not to mention all the action that goes down in the ramp up to the climax and finale. Alight is also better in other areas, including having a greater sense of urgency and much more at stake. The conflict in this sequel is fantastic, but of course this is all up to the reader to find out! That said, there were still a few issues that chafed at me, namely the strained love triangle (considering how I feel this book would have been even better with no romance arc at all) and Em’s awkward interactions with the two boys. But overall, the edge definitely goes to Alight. Picking up the next book was already a foregone conclusion even before I finished the book, but after that unbelievable tease in the epilogue, I’m now more intrigued than ever for the trilogy conclusion, Alone!
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Alive (Book 1)