Alive is a straightforward, YA-themed sci fi thriller that should be very appealing to fans of the Maze Runner. The writing is smooth and straightforward; refreshingly, author Sigler resists the temptation to overwrite scenes so the pacing is excellent. Those looking for answers and worldbuilding will be left mystified: this clearly is the first book in a trilogy. So while we are left with far more questions than answers, it will be interesting to see where the author takes this Generations cast in the next book.
Story: Em wakes up entombed in a stone coffin; it takes all her strength to break out; soon, others emerge as well – but not all survived and several tombs carry long-dead corpses. She has no memories; doesn’t know her name other than a tag on her coffin designating her as M. Savage. She knows she is 12 mentally and it should have been her birthday; but she, along with the 6 others, all have bodies developed into 18 or so and strange tattoos on their foreheads. One thing is clear: they will have to find out where they are, get food, and brave the horrors beyond the room housing their coffins.
Most of the book is Em and her group exploring, getting to know each other’s personalities, and trying to find food and water. The author pleads at the back of the book not to give out spoilers (though any self respecting sci fi fan already knows what the story is about from the series title, “generations”), so I’ll keep the review generalized. It’s a story of survival with some horror mixed in and a lot of adventure/thrilling scenarios.
Em is voted leader of the group by virtue of having awoken first and she spends a lot of time conflicted – hormones making her fall for two guys their beefy pecs in an odd love triangle. The boys are busy ogling girls’ very developed chests. meanwhile, the group has internal conflicts and dynamics (with hints of new ones to come) that mean each person has deep rooted secrets and anyone can die at any time.
Because the writing is so fluid, we’re not given a lot of details of the world nor are the characters nuanced. It was a bit disaffecting, especially since Em is pretty confused for most of the book and doubting herself often. But then the author drops bombs and things liven up. The world is built around Aztec mythology (both their ‘tomb’ and the gods/sacrifices/society) yet the names of the characters are pretty much anglo. Even odder, the kids wake up in “Rebelde” type school uniforms which, while not making sense at the beginning become even stranger after the reveals at the end. Readers will be left mystified despite all the hints – but that also gives the author a place to go with the series.
Despite the lack of worldbuilding and somewhat flat characterization, Alive is a fast and engrossing read. The horror aspects are somewhat gruesome but otherwise this YA book is suitable for teens and adults. Main character Em is an anti hero and readers may or may not like her; but there is enough meat in the story to keep readers engrossed. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.