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Review: If We Survive by Andrew Klavan

If We Survive by Andrew KlavanIf We Survive by Andrew Klavan
Reviewed by: Lori Twichell
Genre: YA, Adventure
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: November 6, 2012

Will Peterson is just a normal teenage guy. He’s got his issues with girls and friends and schoolwork. He deals with all the regular stuff you’d imagine that a teenager deals with on a daily basis. When the chance came for him to join a mission trip to Central America, he figured why not? So Will went to a foreign country with a few other friends from school and their youth pastor to help build a wall. What he never expected was to get caught up in a violent uprising and be stuck in the middle between two warring factions while people around him are tortured to death and die.

The next few days of Will’s life turn him into a completely different person. Constantly on the run, looking at every situation through the lens of life or death, and watching friends be in situations you can’t help will tend to do that to a person. Gun battles, torture, hand to hand combat – not your typical training skills for a mission trip.

I know that this summary doesn’t really cover the specifics of the action, but it’s hard to summarize this particular tale without massive spoilers, so I’m doing my best to keep you free and clear of spoilerage on this one!

That said, Andrew Klavan has created a brilliant edge of your seat thriller with this one. There were moments it was hard to read. That could be because I have a daughter who isn’t too far off from the age of the characters in this one and she’s already expressed some potential for mission and service work. Or it could just be that no matter what, the idea of teenagers stuck in another country and being in harm’s way is frightening enough without the details. However, Klavan fills in those details with crystal clarity – leaving no doubt of how serious this situation is for the kids and those around them.

The characters were spot on teenagers and even though a few times they felt a little like caricatures, the reality still shone through in every action and moment of this situation. A well crafted plot, the story moves quickly with good pacing and sometimes, breakneck speed. Again though, it’s not too far out of the realm of reality for this type of situation and it makes for an interesting read. In life threatening situations and horrifying situations, things often move faster than our brains can process. Klavan captures that well.

This was an adventure of nearly epic proportions packaged into book format. Have you ever read a book and felt like it really NEEDED to be a movie? This one is that in spades. You almost wonder if there’s already a film script lying around somewhere and this book was adapted from it.

If you’re a fan of Andrew Klavan’s, this will definitely be right up your alley. If this is your first foray into his universe you may want to hold on – the ride’s pretty wild.

Rated R: This one’s pretty hard core with the action. People die. Right in front of teenagers. Teenagers have guns – in order to save their own lives but it’s still there. I’d definitely keep this one in the hands of older kids.

*In light of the Sandy Hook tragedy in Connecticut, it’s possible this book could create some different anxiety and stress for people reading it. Be warned that it’s a tense book about teenagers (without parental influence at this point) in life threatening situations. If you’re sensitive to this sort of plot, keep that in mind.


Review copy provided by the author. Thank you!

Note: This review originally appeared here at Radiant Lit.