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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

After Jess is alone. Her cabin has burned to the ground. She knows if she doesn’t act fast, the cold will kill her before she has time to worry about food. But she is still alive—for now. Before Jess hadn’t seen her survivalist, off-the-grid dad in over a decade. But after a car crash killed her mother and left her injured, she was forced to move to his cabin in the remote Canadian wilderness. Just as Jess was beginning to get to know him, a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving her father dead and Jess stranded. After With only her father’s dog for company, Jess must forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. Some days it feels like the wild is out to destroy her, but she’s stronger than she ever imagined. Jess will survive. She has to. She knows who killed her father…and she wants revenge.…

I Am Still Alive

by Kate Marshall

Overall Book Review:

So, I like survival stories, and I Am Still Alive by Kate Marshall was a page turner. I particularly enjoyed the back and forth style of telling the story at the beginning, where the main character, Sequoia “Jess” Cooper tells her story with two beginnings – Before, when she was Jess Cooper going to live with her dad after a dreadful accident, and After, when she is left alone to survive in the Canadian wilderness.

I liked how Jess starts off in a bad place already. She has survived a horribly traumatic accident, but is badly hurt and still slowly recovering with therapy. Then, she gets stuck right in the middle of a second trauma, and is left all by herself, injured, without supplies and only basic survival training to keep herself alive. It’s a terribly fascinating story with a spare, tense style to the writing that holds on and doesn’t let go.

The thing I liked most about this story is that it was so understated in the content department. Yes, there is a bit of violence that occurs, but the content isn’t ever too grisly when describing Jess’ efforts to stay alive, and none of the violence is ever too overwritten. Sometimes it can be a bit blunt, but it’s never so horrifying that you feel shocked reading it. And there’s a few spare mentions of romance or sexual involvement, but nothing descriptive.

The only thing I didn’t care for was the slightly too-much revenge-driven motive near the end. There was one part that I really didn’t care for; although I really understood the character’s motivation, it would have been nice to see a forgiving human touch at the end.

Other than that, this is a really A+ kind of survival story. One of the best I’ve read in a long time. 

Review of an Advance Reading Copy from Viking Books for Young Readers

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  4 religious exclamations; 16 mild obscenities; 2 religious profanities; 1 derogatory name; 6 scatological words; 5 anatomical terms; 3 F-word derivatives.

Violence/Gore:  Many reports of violence; report of someone suffering a car crash and sustaining injuries; a character is alone after a violent incident occurs; description of a car accident; implication that a character has a shady past; a character has a damaged leg; some instances where characters describe how to kill animals for food and/or actually kill animals for food; a character carries a dead rabbit; a dad and daughter verbally fight on several occasions; a girl has a nightmare about a shooting; a girl is frequently in pain; a girl shoots an animal with an arrow; a dog shows up with a bloody muzzle; a man admits to being involved with a violent group when he was younger; a character sees a man shot and killed; a character falls and hurts herself; two characters set a house on fire; a character’s survival is threatened by the upcoming winter; a character finds a dead, ripped-apart fox; a character falls into icy water and almost drowns; a character’s shelter burns down; a character nearly starves to death; a character digs up a dead body; a character is threatened by an animal; animals fight; a character’s feet are injured; a character entertains thoughts of revenge for a murder; a character finds a report about a murdered man; a character shoots, tracks, and kills a deer for food; a character is attacked by an animal and almost killed, but manages to injure the animal with a broken arrow; a character almost shoots a man; a character threatens a character with a rifle; a character is attacked by a man and shoots him, but is knocked out and captured; a character shoots a pet; a character is tied up and threatened; a character hits a man with a rock; a character is pursued and fired at; a girl hunts a man; a character finds a dead body; a character is attacked and killed by a wild animal; a character kills an attacking animal with an arrow; a character sees a mauled corpse; a man and girl tussle; a character sets off a grenade; a character is injured and dies on an icy pond; a girl shoots a badly wounded animal; details of a man’s involvement with domestic terrorism, and the deaths that occurred because of it.

Sex/Nudity:  Mention of ovaries; a character strips out of her wet clothes; mention of a man having a lady friend; a character mentions loving his ex-wife very much; mention of a man and woman breaking up; men talk about women, with implication that their talk is indecent; a girl wonders if a man ever had a date with the woman he likes; implication of two people having an affair via blackmail photos; a girl mentions she has to pee and is escorted by a man to do so; a girl tells a man he has to untie her, otherwise he’ll have to pull her pants down for her.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death of a parent, murder, arson, domestic terrorism, survival, hunting, spouse abuse, accident, revenge.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

A girl takes pain killers; a character’s father was a drug addict; a character drinks beer; mention of someone pouring himself out of a bottle; a man gives his underage daughter a hot toddy.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Fantasy is my bread and butter. I read and write it. I’m obsessed with world-building and fascinated with lyrical prose. I love that I can contribute to the writing community by recommending good books that can actually make a difference in a person’s life.