Holy crap this book.
I have no words. None. I picked it up and started reading and would get so into it that I would have find myself accidentally reading the next page, because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened on the page I was on.
It’s just so close yet so far away from anything that is going on in trending teen lit, and I will be so angry with the general populace of readers if they do not pick up this book and devour it as fast as I did.
Alive by Scott Sigler. I had no idea what I was picking up. If you love the Hunger Games or The Maze Runner, if you love dystopias, if you love mysteries, thrillers, survival books, or Lord of the Flies this story is for you. Kind of weird, right? Holy crap this book!
Main character Em wakes up in a coffin. Her arms and legs are pinned down, and there is something biting at her neck. She fights tooth and nail to get out of the coffin and when she does, the world she finds herself in will floor you. More coffins, and in about half of these coffins are the mummified bodies of dead children. In the other half of these coffins are the most beautiful people she has ever seen and they are asleep just like she was.
Pretty soon the coffin-kids leave their room and begin exploring the halls which are decorated with jewels and stepped-pyramids, and are covered in the dust of hundreds, if not thousands, of dead disintegrating adult bodies. There is no one around.
Em and her friends have no memories. In their minds it is their 12th birthday. Somehow they have to survive both each other and this hostile world corpse-ridden world. Your two main thoughts when reading this book: Number 1 – what the fuck happened here? Number 2 – what the actual fuck just happened here?!
I will not go into the plot anymore because spoiling this book is the last thing I want to do for any one, but let’s just say I hated reading Lord of the Flies in school (it made me want to take a shower and then give back my Human Race Membership card), but this book made me love the whole scenario. (This book even has spears and pigs, FYI.)
The coffin-kids have no memories; they remember small concepts and words, but they have no idea how they know what they know. You get to watch the Id and the Super-ego duke it out without that problematic Ego getting in the way. These kids don’t remember hating each other in the past, they don’t remember schoolyard friendships, they don’t remember race, colour or creed. They are blank slates. Not only that you get to watch their own ideas about gender, race, job, religion, appearance, class, markings, etc. all form. This book is human nature in a Pertri dish. They even have these nifty little marks on their forehead that obviously signify some sort of caste, but they have no idea what they mean. (So if you are damn tired of being sorted into districts, houses, factions or whatever enjoy the parody).
And you know I am not big on romance subplots, but teen lit romance with no preconceived notions of relationships or gender roles? Yes fucking please! (Bishop all the way!)
I really love how Sigler handles themes of leadership as well. So many main characters in dystopian fiction become leaders but its always thrust upon them because they are the only-one-who-can-save-us-all. It’s a big change when Em is elected leader, but as soon as her leadership is challenged she wants to keep it. She is up against obstacles like group politics and tough decision making and it all really matters because Em wants to be the leader. The mistakes that she makes are completely on her head because she feels she is the best person for the job. It’s nice to have this angle of leadership and responsibility played up.
I am so excited for people to read this book and talk about it! There are just so many levels to it, it’s so well placed that I am tempted to try swallowing the book in order to get closer to this bloody thing. Go get this book, read it and then pass it along to someone else who will enjoy it because this should be shared.
So, now that I’ve got that out of my system I am going to go read this book again. Something I never do. Ever.
Oh, and did I mention there will be a sequel?