by Scott Sigler
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From the book
A stabbing pain jolts me awake.
I open my eyes to darkness. Total darkness.
My head feels thick, my thoughts clogged.
The pain is where my neck meets my shoulder, but it's already fading. I remember a sting just like it, but much worse. That day . . . was it my birthday? Yes, I think so. My twelfth birthday.
A chill floods me—this has happened before.
I am in a coffin.
A monster is coming for me, a rot-black thing with one ravaged eye.
No . . . that's not quite right. It's different this time. I can move my hands . . . last time they were held down. My fingers rise up through the darkness. I feel a lid, so close it's almost touching my face and chest. I need to escape before the monster destroys me.
I need a weapon.
The spear . . . where is my spear?
I punch at the lid, I scream and I hammer at it with fists and knees.
A noise, a whir of machinery; I feel the coffin lid start to slide down toward my feet. Light hits me, burning my eyes even through tightly scrunched lids—I can't see.
I lash out wildly, blindly, punching and clawing.
Hands grab my wrists.
"Em, it's okay!"
A girl's voice. I recognize it: Spingate.
"Calm down," she says. "Everything is fine."
Her hand takes mine. Our fingers clasp tightly. Her skin is warm and soft, her grip strong and confident.
"We've landed," she says. "You're safe."
Safe. That word is an illusion. And yet, I feel my body relax a little. I recall something big and silver, something that gave me hope, but the image evades me.
"Landed? What are you talking about?"
Her other hand strokes my hair. It comforts me, takes away some of my fear.
"You're still groggy from the gas in your coffin," she says. "The effects should wear off pretty fast."
Even as she says this, I feel my head clearing. The fog drifts away. Memories rush back.
Waking up in a coffin. The needle driving into my neck. Fighting my way out. Not knowing who or where I was, my entire past gone save for a few wisps of someone else's life.
Saving Spingate. Then O'Malley. Then Bello, Aramovsky and Yong.
The hideous, cracked skull of a little boy, skin dried tight to his bones, clothes too big for his small body.
The skeletons. The dust. The endless dungeon hallways. Our long walk.
My knife sliding into Yong's belly.
Finding Bishop, Gaston, Latu and the rest. The vote, where I became leader—two tribes merging into one.
The pigs. Latu's death. The Garden. That's where I last felt safe, when I still believed that childish concept existed.
Bello's terror-wide eyes when the monster's wrinkled black hands dragged her into the Garden's underbrush. Those monsters—the Grownups—with their red eyes and spindly limbs, their gnarled skin, fleshy folds hanging where their mouths should have been.
The shame of that moment hammers me. I left her. For the greater good, my head tells me, but my heart calls me a coward.
Meeting Brewer. Discovering that we weren't underground, that we were on an ancient spaceship called the Xolotl. The Grownups were creatures that should have died centuries ago. They wanted to wipe our minds clean and take over our young bodies as easily as someone might change their clothes.
Learning about Omeyocan, the planet we were made for.
Then, my decision to attack. Harris, dying somewhere in the Garden. Capturing Matilda. Finding the big silver shuttle. And when we were almost away, El-Saffani—the boy and girl twins who finished each...
About the Author-
- New York Times bestselling author Scott Sigler is the author of sixteen novels--including Alive and Alight--six novellas, and dozens of short stories. He is also the co-founder of Empty Set Entertainment, which publishes his YA Galactic Football League series. He lives in San Diego.
July 1, 2016
Gr 9 Up-In the first installment, a young girl awakens in a box only to discover herself surrounded by more boxes, filled with other living-and some dead-teens. The survivors of whatever event occurred have only one thing in common: they all believe it's their birthday. The second entry opens with Em and the rest of the Birthday Children arriving at their new home, a place called Omeyocan. While this is supposed to be a safe haven, the teens find signs that a lost civilization may have once lived there and might have met a horrifying end. Are they safe? Are there new enemies hiding in the jungle? What about enemies from within who might use the dangerous situation to remove Em as leader? Sigler's series is one that is hard to discuss without giving away too many spoilers. It is comparable to Ilsa Bick's "Dark Passages" novels in that it is so mind-blowing that it defies categorization. This series is recommended for all teen collections, especially those in need of titles that cross genres. Give to teens who request a book that is "totally different" from anything they've read before.
Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
- Phil Plait, PhD, author of Bad Astronomy "Suspenseful . . . [Alive] lives up to its hype, packing plenty of thrills. . . . A page-turner that whets the appetite for volume 2."--Entertainment Weekly "Fascinating and intriguing . . . a cross between Lord of the Flies and The Maze Runner and yet . . . so much more."--Fresh Fiction "A ripping, claustrophobic thunderbolt of a novel."--Pierce Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Red Rising "Unstoppable and real, M. Savage is one hell of a heroine. Get ready to be left breathless."--Kristin Cast, New York Times bestselling author of the House of Night series "Sigler has created a wonderful and engrossing character in M. Savage. Strong and smart, but with the naïveté and misgivings of any teenage girl, she's someone you'll definitely want on your side when s**t hits the fan, which it most certainly does."--Veronica Belmont, host of Sword & Laser "The puzzle unfolds masterfully, right down to the last page."
PublisherRandom House Publishing Group
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