As soon as I read the synopsis, I was hooked. Give a Hunger Games fan a book that promises an arena, contestants and whole lot of blood, and they'll love you forever. I Am Alive by Cameron Jace is a novel you've got to look out for - and I got the absolute honour of getting to participate in the blog tour!
Author: Cameron Jace
Released: May 23rd 2012
Pages: 267 (Kindle)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Every girl dies - not every girl really lives.
Sixteen-year-old Decca Tenderstone feels captivated when she meets Leo, who is arrogant, silent, beautiful, and shoots almost every one he meets. The usual boring girl meets badboy story... hmm... with a twist ...
They live in a dystopian future in Los Angeles where every sixteen-year-old is ranked on a scale from one to ten to determine their future. Outranks, who are considered a danger to society, are forced to attend the Monster Show, a brutal sacrificing ritual that is broadcasted worldwide on live TV, where rebellious teens are labelled Bad Kidz or Monsters and get to fight for their lives in deadly games. To prove that you're still alive you have to scream I Am Alive every six hours. Lower your voice, and you're dead.
Decca doesn't need Leo's company. She has secrets of her own. While they both can't stand each other, she will find out why she doesn't fit into any rank. Nothing will stand in her way as she has to make choices concerning love, life, staying alive, growing up, and finding out who she really is.
At a first glance of the synopsis, I was hooked. I'm a big fan of The Hunger Games - well, who isn't nowadays? - and ever since I first finished the series, I've been looking for a dystopian novel that will quench my desire for a similar book. With the I Am Alive description, I thought I'd found it.
The story follows a sixteen year old called Decca Tenderson, who has been predicted to turn out as a Seven, which, in a society ranked from Fives to Nines, is pretty damn good. However, the year previously, Decca lost her best friend, Woo, to the Monster Show - a games show that lasts a few days every year, where teenagers ranked as rebels and unworthy of even a Five are sent into an arena to get killed. This happened to Woo, but Decca believes that somewhere out there in the Monster arena, Woo is still alive, hiding and waiting for her. So what's the best thing to do? Become a Monster and go find him herself.
I instantly loved Decca. She was strong, independent, witty, and reminded me of your classic female superhero - everything you want a winner to be. And I suppose that extends to all the characters Jace created, in the sense that the bad guys were your classic bad guy - that the handsome saviour was a handsome saviour, if that explanation makes any sense at all. Basically, Jace's characterization of the different characters evoked the correct reaction from the reader - you liked who you were supposed to like, and hated who you were supposed to hate.
I also liked the references to the present-day world. In dystopian novels, the author tends to concentrate on this future they have created, rather than connecting with the fact that their dystopia stemmed from what the reader is currently living in. Jace did this perfectly, making connections from things such as 'The Breakfast Club' (a favourite film of mine - I love me some young Judd Nelson!) to Hannibal Lector, the crazy cannibal, to famous landmarks like Disney Land (I'll say no more on this, as we don't want spoilers!) The point is, the references created a bridge for the reader to relate to Jace's world, as well as to the characters situations.
I thought Jace's writing was so easy to slip in and out of, and as I neared the climax of the novel, I literally couldn't put it down (don't tell my maths teacher on me, but I had my Kindle hidden behind my pencil case all through last lesson!). It's addictive stuff, and the way that Decca addressed the reader - as if we were friends going along for the ride beside her - really helped me to get into the story.
Now here's the problem I had with the book. Some of it wasn't as creative as it could have been. Whilst I liked the links to the present-day, replacing brand names with a Z just didn't appeal to me. I mean, Zootube? Zwitter? David Zowie? What is this?! I understand what Jace did, linking to the fact that this dystopia was created from half-facts, but it still bugged me. I just wanted to say, C'mon dude - you've created a freaking monster stadium, you have plenty of creativity and imagination in that brain of yours; work it!
I also didn't like the fact that at both of the beginning of the book and at the end, Jace explained himself and his ideas, insisting that he hadn't copied anyone elses idea. A good author should never feel the need to explain why they have done such and such, for example, the fact that The Hunger Games was a TV game show, yet the Monster Show was not a copy from it. Well, yes it was - but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I mean, do you remember when Twilight became popular, and suddenly vampire books were sprouting all over the place - well, that was all sparked by Meyer's idea of bringing back vampires, wasn't it? The authors saw a good idea and grasped at it, changing it and twisting it until it became a story all of its own. Jace did that with I Am Alive, and shouldn't have to face accusations.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a good read, and I'd recommend it to fans of dystopian novels like The Hunger Games and The Selection - it's literally like the two have been smushed together and have given birth to an amazing idea. I have adored I Am Alive, and I can't wait until the next installment - after that cliffhanger, I am in some major need of Decca and Leo!