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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Alive (A Book Published This Year)


Pro: All the things.
Con: …Only if, in subsequent books, we don’t get to learn the full backstory.

The Bottom Line: If you like a nasty little packaging of horror and science fiction, then this book is for you.

I debated at first where to put this book. I considered putting it as the Book Set in the Future slot, but when I finished and given what I’d learned, I didn’t think that worked quite right. Luckily I spotted the one listed above and decided that would be better.

Describing this book is going to be tough, as Scott Sigler himself makes a request in the very back of the book urging us reviewers not to reveal too much. And I might take that to the extreme since there’s so much going on, I really don’t want to reveal a lot of things, which makes it tougher to talk about, but I’ll do my best.

A girl finds herself in a coffin. She’s twelve, and it’s her birthday. Not the best way to start the day. After panicking and realizing no one is going to come for her, she manages to break out where she finds other coffins – and her name. M. Savage. She soon discovers other things. She’s not twelve. Today is not her birthday. And she’s not the only one trapped alive in a coffin that somehow is and isn’t a coffin. After releasing other boys and girls, they all realize the same thing as Em – nothing what they thought is true, and they can’t remember any of their past. That means it’s time to find out, and that is way easier said than done.

This is the bare bones of the story, the very start of a rabbit hole that goes in a horrific circle and gets nastier each and every time. I’ve read Scott’s work before – his adult novel Infected. I never got to the rest of the series, though I was able to do some quick skimming. Scott is very good at providing readers with a wonderful blending of science fiction and horror, and there’s plenty of that here. In fact, I picked this book up at work (surprise, surprise) in the teen section, thinking, “Guess everyone’s writing teen now,” (which is true)…only to open it up and wonder how the hell this made it to the teen shelves. I mean, Hunger Games has its nasty moments, but given what the characters in this book saw in some of the rooms they passed by – yeah. No. This is some Saw-style Clive Barker type stuff. Which is why, if you’re an adult in the teen section, frickin’ go for it, man.

Piecing things together is pretty hard for a while given the information that Scott provides you. He makes you think one thing completely given all the Aztec imagery, and then suddenly, BAM – if you’re paying attention to the details you realize you’re somewhere utterly different and it’s really bizarre. I don’t feel I’m giving anything away with that Aztec bit because it’s pretty clear with the carvings mentioned and some of the names that popped up that Scott went for the Aztec inspiration. But it works because like I said, it makes things all the more confusing.

While the concept overall (once you realize where they are) has been done – and I’d list books or movies, but then I’d be giving it away – the other details, as well as the whole Aztec bit, make it very different. So does the darkness and the characters. It’s a new spin on an idea that’s been used, and that’s okay. Borrow and modify, as they would say in the art world, and oh boy, does Scott modify.

There are questions left behind, but then this is also the first book in a trilogy (grumble, grumble), so for those questions to be answered, you’ll have to wait for the next two books. I’m really hoping they get answered because if the next book just focuses on where they were headed at the end of this book and the trials they’re facing there without touching on the history of this book, well, that would be irritating. But I don’t think that’ll happen. People are acting too weird, there’s a lot still going on behind them, and there’s still the question of that one girl…

It’s a solid read with a strong female character who has to fight with things that are and what she hopes aren’t a part of her. The visuals that Scott paints are strong – if this were a movie it could be super tense and extremely freaky in several areas. I’m digging what’s going on here and I look forward to the next book (tentative release date of April 2016).

In short, people like Scott Sigler make me jealous. Jealous of his writing skills and his ability to come up with such wild stories. Perhaps someday. Until then, I’ll keep on reading and immersing myself in this world – horrific though it may be.

NT

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