I’m not sure where to start with this one… I have said before how much I enjoy wilderness/survival stories. I always try to picture myself as the character(s) and wonder if I would be tough/brave/strong enough to survive. That is why I was excited to start this read. Another survival story (set in Alaska, no surprise there) and I’m game! Well, sadly this one fell flat of my expectations.
The main reason I did not give this a high rating (2.5 stars) was because it felt like just too much happened in the span of 300+ pages. I mean a lot. The story started out with Travis and his sister, Jess, setting out (with their parents) from their remote home to what they believe is a safe town/city hundreds of miles away. Of course things go from bad to worse when Travis and Jess lose their parents so early into the journey. These two band together and set out to continue the necessary adventure/journey in order to stay alive. Along the way they encounter all sorts of terrible people who want nothing more than to steal what these kids have (Travis is just 17, while Jess is only 10).
Herein lies my issue: you name the situation that could happen, these two ran into it. Wild bears? Check. Group of elderly people who only want to do harm to the kids? Check. People who end up being cannibals and want to keep these two for food? Check. A religious group that believes marrying off young girls to older men in hopes of repopulating based on some religious sign? Check. People eating rats and other small creatures? Check. Rogue group of teenage girls that made it safely out of a girls home? Check. It just continued like this throughout the entire story and it felt as if the author was trying to make up the most ridiculous possibilities ever. Now before you say, “But hey, it’s the end of the world and people are doing drastic things because they don’t know what else to do!” – I get it. Nobody can say exactly what they would do if this happened to them but it seemed like just SO MUCH was happening to these characters that it felt completely unbelievable. I found myself rolling my eyes more and more as the story continued.
I don’t dispute that these two could possibly survive longer than I ever could in the wilderness, but how they made it that far was beyond me. Travis’ character did not have the best of luck but everything felt convenient when it came to him getting out of trouble. He always “just so happened” to have the right tool/expertise/experience with whatever was going on and he was able to come out on the other side. Other than that, his character was just alright. There was nothing overly exciting about him. He certainly did not have a character arc so there was no growth for me to track. As for Jess… well, I could not stand her. She was all of 10 years old and it showed. This girl did nothing but whine like a brat. You would never know that her parents spent years teaching her and her brother to survive. This girl could not do anything but whine about being hungry or wanting to pet the dog. She was as immature as you could possibly imagine a 10 year old could be. I don’t think her character ever – EVER – realized just how serious their situation was and it showed. I wanted to box her ears so bad.
AND THAT ENDING. What in tar nation! I cannot tell you the last time I read a book that ended so abruptly and without any type of resolution. This was not the first book in a new series so I could not (and cannot) figure out why the author chose to end the way he did. The characters were in the midst of another “will these people help me?” situation and BOOM – end of book. What? What just happened? Frustration – that’s what happened.
Do I recommend this one? No, not really. There was not a lot of suspense because you just knew these kids would make it out of anything. Some situations were a little more gruesome than others but nothing I hadn’t read in a survival story before. I left this book feeling completely underwhelmed.