Sunday, August 24, 2014

Survival by Chris Ryan

The Phoenix is a sailing ship with a difference, the crew are teenagers from around the world brought together for a trip of lifetime - well for most of the teenagers on boar it is.  For some of them the trip is more of a nightmare, a prison, a punishment.  Alex, Li, Paolo, Amber, and Hex make up the A-Watch, the most dysfunctional watch on the whole Phoenix.  When they get into trouble they make a decision that lands them in real trouble.  Set adrift on the ocean the only hope they have is to find land, but in the vast space of the ocean there is plenty of water and very little land - water that is full of its own hazards.

When they finally land on an island that will not be the end of their struggles, because to survive they need food and water - and water is a precious resource that is not always easy to find even on a large island.  As long as they are all focused on themselves and their own needs they will fail, because to survive on the island they need more than their own skills, they need the skills of the whole team working together.  It will take all of their skills - survival skills, animal knowledge, medical triage - to get them out of the mess they are in.

Survival is the first book in the ALPHA force series and is an explosive start to a series that focuses on some of the many real dangers people face in our world - exploitation, forced organ harvest, the rape of nature for precious resources - and the team facing these challenges are teenagers with a unique combined skills set.  I first read Survival when it was released more than ten years ago and I was a little bit worried that it may have been terribly dated, but it was surprisingly current and topical.

Chris Ryan was in the SAS and has written nonfiction accounts of the SAS and adult action thrillers for many years, and he has increasingly found his feet in the teen fiction market with a range of series featuring tough as nails teenagers who do things for themselves rather than depending on adults to bail them out of trouble.  The ALPHA force series was one of the first and while the book lacks deep personal descriptions of the characters and a deep look beneath the surface of their psyches - it instead offers a lightning paced story driven by drama and action where you can't help but cheer for the characters as you experience the challenges through their eyes.  While each member of ALPHA force has a unique set of skills, none of them are so perfect that you fail to relate - there is going to be at least one character in the team that real teens will be able to relate to and connect to.

This is a retro read because it is more than ten years old, but this series has stayed in print (or at least been reprinted) and re-reading it reminds me of why I liked the series so much in the first place.  If there weren't so many books to read on my reading shelf I would be launching myself back into the rest of the series (but that will have to wait until I have more reading time free).  This is a series for all reading abilities, and although some of the content in the series is uncomfortable reading, 'tweens should be able to cope with the content as well as the reading level.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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