Author: Alex Morel
Publication date: August 2, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Books)
Length: 273 pages
Age group: Young Adult
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Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository
Jane is on a plane on her way home to Montclair, New Jersey, from a mental hospital. She is about to kill herself. Just before she can swallow a lethal dose of pills, the plane hits turbulence and everything goes black. Jane wakes up amidst piles of wreckage and charred bodies on a snowy mountaintop. There is only one other survivor: a boy named Paul, who inspires Jane to want to fight for her life for the first time.
Jane and Paul scale icy slopes and huddle together for warmth at night, forging an intense emotional bond. But the wilderness is a vast and lethal force, and only one of them will survive.
I don’t know what it is about plane crash/survival stories that fascinates me but I’ve always loved these types of books. Judging by the synopsis, Survive sounded just like my cup of tea but it turned out to be even better than what I expected. There are actually no words to describe how much I enjoyed reading this book, other than… oh my goodness.
In terms of the plot itself, it’s not the most mysterious story you’ll ever read. Basically, a girl called Jane Solis, who’s been living in a mental hospital for the past 12 months or so, is on her way back home for the Christmas holidays – the problem is, she doesn’t intend to leave the plane alive. She carefully planned her own death down to the tiniest details – but things don’t go her way. Just when she’s about to hit the switch and swallow a handful of pills, the plane hits turbulence and crashes. They landed on a snowy mountaintop in the middle of nowhere and no one seems to be alive but her. Jane, who was about to take her own life a few hours ago. Then he finds a guy called Paul and as much as they irritate each other at first, they join forces and try to figure out how to stay alive and get out of there as soon as possible. Since most of these are given in the synopsis, things don’t take you by surprise – but still, there was something about this book that made me keep on reading. I’m quite a slow reader but I devoured the first half of the book in one sitting. I think that says it all.
One of the things I loved the most about Survive is how much Jane changed during those 6 or 7 days they’ve spent on the mountain. She’s definitely come a long way from being a suicide, someone who’s constantly angry, anxious and just bored with her own life. I also loved how her relationship with Paul has changed during their adventure and how they kept motivating each other to go on and fight. I pretty much sobbed my way through the last 40 or 50 pages – it was beautifully written.
My only issue with this book is that there are some plot holes in the story. The one that bugged me the most was the fact that Paul was able to bring some matches and a knife with him on the plane. I’m not an expert on airport security rules and regulations but I’m fairly sure you’re not allowed to walk around with knives in your hand luggage. Having climbing ropes and knives is very useful for our two main characters but it does make you raise your eyebrows. I mean, what are the chances that the only time you’re about to kill yourself and/or get into a plane crash you’re travelling with a group of rock climbers who happen to have all their equipment and snow gear with them on the plane? It’s very convenient but … is it realistic? I’m not a hundred percent sure that it is. Having said that, it still didn’t put me off. It made me raise my eyebrows here and there but all in all I still ended up loving this book.
If you’re looking for a quick but captivating read or something heartbreaking but still hopeful, you’ll like Survive. It’s a fast paced emotional roller-coaster that is guaranteed stay with you for a long time.
“It is ten minutes before ten, and normally I’d b staking out a chair for Group. That’s the kind of thing you worry about in an institution like Life House. I guess that’s good, in a way. The challenge of Group is to find a chair as far away from Old Doctor as possible without sitting too close to Big Stink, otherwise secretly known as BS. BS is Ben, and he’s the only boy on Life House D, which is specifically for cutters and suicides, and he smells like urine baked at three-fifty for forty minutes.”