Alive by Scott Sigler reminded me of being deliciously off-balance the way I was when I read the first book in the Maze Runner series. In this case however, a girl, Em, wakes up in the last place you would want to wake up in. That’s why I loved the first book, The Maze Runner, and hated the rest as once the initial ‘mystery’ was explained the next book was inferior and I never finished the series.
That’s not to say that by the end of Alive readers don’t have some answers, but with those answers that are given, new questions are raised, and that’s why I have hopes that the rest of this series will be able to sustain interest.
Of course it doesn’t hurt that Em has a strong case of girl power. In other apocalyptic books that can be one-dimensional, that the girl is a tough ass-kicker. While it’s true that Em fights her way out of the place she woke up in, it’s not about physical power with her. It’s that she is a leader, and she likes it, and is reluctant to give that away to the boys who vie with her for the leadership spot. She also uses her brain to think things through, though when circumstances call for it, she can be one tough cookie. What makes her the best leader though, is her ability to recognize when she has made a mistake and her protective instincts towards the others who are in the same situation.
If I am being a little bit vague about the details of this story, it’s because I read the afterword by Scott Sigler. I haven’t encountered a situation until now where an author asks those of us bloggers to not provide spoilers. After thinking it over, he’s right, I should be careful to not ruin for other readers that sense of disorientation I had reading the first several chapters that drew me in to the story. Too often I can guess what is happening in a story miles before the writer actually tells us, but since in this case it was not easy to guess what was going on, I will show due respect and try to write enough to entice people to read it without giving away the farm. How to do that without saying too much is just a little tricky though. I guess it’s kosher to provide some comparisons, so in addition to saying that if you liked the feeling of being off-balance in Maze Runner you might want to try this one, I will also say if you liked the world-building of Wool and the idea of tribes or cliques as in Quarantine and The Uprising then you will like this for those qualities.
Finally, while Em has fluttery feelings for a couple of the boys, it has not yet turned into some clichéd love triangle as in many dystopian tales. No, Em seems to recognize that there are more important things going on than having a crush. It’s up to her to figure out where they are, how they got there, and most importantly how to get the heck out. This book answers the first, only brushes on the second leaving us wanting more and doesn’t even answer the last. That’s enough to incentivize me to read the next one, is that enough for you to read the first?