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If We Survive Hardcover – November 5, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
I loved how realistic the characters were - one in particular was very dramatic and got upset a lot (to the point of being annoying), but given the circumstances, I understood why she'd be that way. My favorite character was definitely Palmer! I just loved so much about him (his courage, how he acted, things he said, etc.).
The story was great and I don't think there was ever a time I was bored while reading If We Survive... there was just so much action!
If We Survive was a wonderful read that I loved! I think teens (and adults!) who like action books with some pulse-pounding moments will enjoy this book. I definitely recommend it. I look forward to reading more of Andrew Klavan's books in the future.
*I borrowed a print copy of this book from the library; I also received a complimentary eBook copy via Netgalley for my review. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*
The book is not only about what happens to Will and how he steps up, but about the pilot sent to retrieve Will and his small youth group after a week-long mission trip in a central American country ripe for yet another revolution. The pilot says he is an ex-Marine, never mind the saying, "once a Marine, always a Marine." The man has lost faith in pretty much everything, seemingly, but a young woman accompanying the teens isn't willing to accept that. Church groups take trips like this all the time, and that part of the book is believable.
The story opens in a cantina where the group and their youth pastor are waiting to be picked up to go home. The illusion of safety and security evaporates when their waiter is shot dead before their eyes on the first or second page, right after Klavan makes you start to like the guy.
Be prepared for things to get a lot worse before they get better, but along the way Klavan tells a great story, manages to keep the suspense going,shows much about human nature, the nature of faith, and of what's still good about America.
The main character, Will, is pretty relatable. I could see myself thinking many of the same things he did were I 16 and in a similar situation. The other characters, however, were pretty thin. We have the tough, reluctant former-soldier hero, struggling to find the man he used to be, Palmer Dun. The sweet, ditzy, valley-girl Nikki. The I'm-not-afraid-of-anything (except snakes)heroine, Meredith. And the everything-American-is-wrong disgruntled teen, Jon.
For the YA audience, these stereotypes wont be a problem because they dont have the years to make the character's transparency apparent. But for us grown ups, Meredith will seem as "alive" as the statues she is likened to. Nikki is deadweight for 3/4 the story and I only wanted her to die just so the audio book reader could stop doing the "valley girl" voice. Palmer's constant, never ending, dry sarcasm and "tough guy marine" character got on my nerves. And every time Jon opened his mouth he would say the same thing "Prez Kobar is a great man...blah blah blah".
The main problem I have with the group of heroes is that they all stay the same from beginning to end. Jon never shuts up about American atrocities (of which there are actually many but the author did not give the reader anything to give this argument weight and seemed to only want to make it a straw-man). Will repeats the same platitude about prayer constantly. Meredith never gets upset about anything. Nikki, in a war zone, wont shut up about shopping and other such teen diversions. And Palmer never experiences any doubts about anything he does or says, ever. Oh, and he has more escape tricks than a ninja.
At the end of the book I was left with a "meh" feeling and I am sure I will forget all about this novel a year from now.
So what is the book good for? Give this book to your son or nephew as long as he is under 17, even if you are not religious. He wont see the glaring holes (like how the whole country was overthrown in 15 minutes right at the start of the book), and he will at least be able to enjoy the book's quick pace.
Want a better story about teens fighting against the military with an Aussie twist? Try Tomorrow, When the War Began
5 Stars, Klavan is a master story teller.