It’s hard to talk about Alive by Scott Sigler without spoiling it. There is even a note at the end of the book, exhorting readers not to mention spoilers online. So when my review turns really vague, that’s why.
The story opens with the main character waking up in a coffin. She believes it’s her twelfth birthday but has only vague memories of her parents and no idea who she is. The first chapter is intense, to say the least, playing on the widespread fear of being buried alive. When the main character breaks out of her coffin, she learns a few things. First, she thinks she’s twelve but soon realizes her clothes don’t fit and her body is that of a young woman. Then she sees a name inscribed on her coffin: M. Savage.
When Em takes in the room around her, she notices more coffins. Most of them contain shriveled corpses, but a few have living, breathing people inside them. People like her, whose clothes are too tight and who all claim to be turning twelve. Em assumes leadership and takes her group out of the coffin room. As they walk, they encounter body after body, long since turned to ash and dust.
And here is where I can only talk about the rest of the book in the vaguest of terms. Sorry! It was good. I liked it a lot. The author’s method of description drives me crazy (which led in part to my four-star rating), but that is a matter of personal taste. Personally, I need a description to take my hand and walk me right up to the object being described, but Entertainment Weekly complimented Sigler for letting readers “make their most important discoveries through [Em’s] eyes.”
I wouldn’t call this horror per se, but it doesn’t shy away from some pretty horrific moments. Most of the horror, however, is in static visuals rather than acts of violence (though there’s a little of that too). There’s also the awkwardness inherent in the idea of twelve-year-olds being trapped in the bodies of eighteen-year-olds. It feels a little uncomfortable for the reader, but Em feels a little uncomfortable, so for me, it had the intended effect. The book’s attitude toward religion in general, while not exactly mean-spirited, is unflattering and seemed to me more of a side statement that had little bearing on the actual plot. I mostly ignored it.
It does move kind of slow at times, and you will be kept in the dark for as long as Em is, but the payoff is satisfying, and it raises enough questions to make you eager for the next book. The second book in the series, Alight, was published earlier this year, and the final book, Alone, is set to be published in March 2017. If audiobooks are your thing, you have hit the jackpot, my friend. Scott Sigler releases free installments of the audio version every Sunday. Right now, he’s in the middle of Alight.
There’s no hint of whether or not Sigler will continue writing YA. Either way, this trilogy promises to fill a unique niche in the YA market.
By day, Constance is a mild-mannered elementary school employee who is far more outgoing on social media than in person. But once the sun sets, she transforms into a hangry were-novelist in search of the perfect writing spot.