At the end of Alive, there is a polite request from Scott Sigler to keep all reviews spoiler-free. As I work my way through this post, I will attempt to honor the author’s wishes. I purchased this book based on the enticing back cover blurb. My wife read it first, and shall we say she wasn’t so pleased with it. Actually, I think hate is a better word. My own feelings for Alive were slightly more positive, but I did have some problems with the writing which I will discuss later in this review.
The book definitely started out strong. A teenage girl awakens to find herself trapped inside a coffin. Her memories have been erased, and she has no idea how she arrived there. Believing herself to be twelve years old, she escapes only to find others that were trapped inside other caskets. Some are alive, while others are dead. Outside the room, there is a corridor littered with bones, dust, and no adults. The girl only knows that her name is M. Savage for that is what is written on her coffin. Calling herself Em, she becomes the leader of this group of survivors as they attempt to discover what happened.
When I started this book, I definitely didn’t want to put it down. Sigler creates an interesting mystery and the pacing works extremely well. For a mystery likes this, it’s important to not reveal too much too soon but also to not let your readers become bored. Although we only learn a little at a time, Sigler keeps the novel interesting between the factions of survivors and the issue of trust among them. Despite her best efforts, Em struggles to gain the full support of those she is attempting to lead. It definitely has the feel of a science fiction Lord of the Flies.
Was the reveal worth the buildup? This is a tough one to answer. I was surprised; however, the book began to slip for me near the end. It’s definitely not something I could have predicted, and for the most part works.
What didn’t work for me is the love triangle that had to be thrown into the mix. While I understand that this is a YA novel, I started getting really irritated at Em’s dilemma on falling for two very different male characters. At times, I felt like I was reading excerpts from Twilight. I literally lost count of the number of times, a character’s physical features are mentioned, such as muscular chests or how Em admires her friend with much larger breasts than her. It was just a bit annoying.
Obviously since this is the first of a trilogy, it ends on a cliffhanger. Will I be reading the next installment? I’m not going to say no at this time, but it isn’t a priority for me at the moment. There are some other series, such as the Silo series as well as the final installment to The Magicians. Those will definitely come first in my reading if I purchase them.