Release Date: August 2nd, 2012
Pages: 272 pages
My Format: ebook
Rating: ★★★★☆ / 3.75 out of 5
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 went into this book a bit cynically, thinking it was going to be a typical YA cautionary "appreciate life" tale. Not that there's anything wrong with those tales, but being that I'm not brimming with teen angst and adolescent insecurities like I used to be, I didn't think it would resonate as deeply with me as it I imagined it would with someone younger. Boy was I wrong, she typed furiously through her tears.
In any case, this story is a little different from most of the teen books centered around suicide that I've read. Most of them present you with a character you automatically feel very sorry for. They're fresh off an unimaginable tragedy or their depression is explained in such stark and emotional detail that your heart aches for them right from the get go. That wasn't the case (for me, at least) when it comes to our main character, Jane. At first she simply seems detached and bored with life and the reader doesn't exactly know why. It's obvious she's got some anxiety and supressed issues but I remember reading a line about her "miserable" life and thinking, what's so bad about your life, kid? Come on, now. Only to be rewarded with that very information pages later. Ahhh, I get it now. Clever writing. I loved the bitter irony of a girl who thought she had nothing to left to live for being thrown into a situation where she now has to fight not only for her life, but someone else's as well.
This book is quite short, sad, and sweet. It managed to take me on a rollercoaster from somewhat indifference, to yearning, to hope, and to tears in the span of 272 pages. And in that way I felt like I sort of developed as a reader in the same way that Jane developed as a character. Corny, I know, but it was an emotional experience. As I've said countless times before, I'm a character girl. If you get me to care about your characters, you've got me. And this book really got me. Even as sparse as this book was, I felt for Jane and Paul as if their characters had been fleshed out for ages. Definitely worth the read. The only thing I'll warn any potential readers against is that fact that it is a short read (though this may be preferable to some) and the "hatchet meets lost" tagline surrounding this book. I get the effort to draw in readers that way, but I think if you go into this book thinking you're going to get something as complex as Lost or as gritty as Hatchet, you might be a bit disappointed. Survive is it's own story, I don't think it needs any half-hearted comparisons to make it stand out.