Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Review | Alive by Chandler Baker

Alive by Chandler Baker 
June 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
368 pages
Amazon + Good Reads
Rating: 3/5 stars
*I received a copy of this  book in exchange for an honest review from Kaye Publicity!

"Stella Cross's heart is poisoned.

After years on the transplant waiting list, she's running out of hope that she'll ever see her eighteenth birthday. Then, miraculously, Stella receives the transplant she needs to survive.

Determined to embrace everything she came so close to losing, Stella throws herself into her new life. But her recovery is marred by strange side effects: Nightmares. Hallucinations. A recurring pain that flares every day at the exact same moment. Then Stella meets Levi Zin, the new boy on everyone's radar at her Seattle prep school. Stella has never felt more drawn to anyone in her life, and soon she and Levi are inseparable.

Stella is convinced that Levi is her soul mate. Why else would she literally ache for him when they are apart?

After all, the heart never lies...does it?"

-Good Reads

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Julie from Kaye Publicity! 

Stella Cross has waited years on the transplant list, hoping for a new heart... and just when it seems as though her time and health have run out, she's given a new chance at life when a donor miraculously appears. After her surgery, Stella begins to try and pick up the pieces of her life and regain a sense of normalcy that she lost since her long bout of hospital time. But, of course, nothing comes simple or easy. Stella is plagued by a soul-shattering pain that rocks her to her core every single day, exactly at 5:08 PM and no one - parents or medical personnel - can figure out what is going on. Her pain is coupled with waking hallucinations that would make one feel as though she was living in a nightmare only to be thrust back into reality and left questioning her sanity. 

It would seem as though this would be Stella's life from here on out... until she meets Levi Zin. Levi is new to Stella's school and knows nothing about her past or illness... and if that wasn't attractive enough, Levi is absolutely gorgeous and every girl swoons over him... and he's dead set on pursuing Stella. 


I'm sorry to say it - but this story left me wanting. 

Chandler Baker presented a concept that I haven't seen before and begin the story with a realistic horror that immediately reminded me of books such as the Mara Dyer trilogy by Michelle Hodgkin and The Merciless by Danielle Vega. It appeared as though we, the readers, would journey through life with Stella... simultaneously experiencing her nightmarish hallucinations and questioning her sanity. And for the first third of the book - Baker delivered. But after a while, the story began to drag on and though we were given hints that something was innately wrong with Stella and Levi's relationship, having to drag through page after page of the inner workings of a teenage girl's brain was tiresome. 

My main issues boil down to two primary objects: 1. the book was simply too long and, 2. we were supposed to be sold on a relationship that sprung from insta-love. 

The length of the book simply seems excessive and at 368 pages, I'm wondering how I found the will to trudge through it all. Alive would have been okay if Stella wasn't an obnoxious character but she was the quintessential teenage girl - self absorbed and kind of a dick to everyone around her... including her one year old sister. I hated being in her head and as the book progressed, she became more self obsessed. I also don't think that the length of the book matched the level of action - the ratio of mundane daily teenage life to creepy, keep me on the edge of my seat was disproportionate and not in a good way. I think that one hundred pages could have been easily shaved off of the length of the book and the story would have benefited from it. 

And here we come to insta-love. Ah, how I hate thee. Before Stella's surgery, she was left with the promise of a potential romantic relationship with a guy that she had been friends with for years - Henry. Before we meet Levi, Henry is basically perfect. He is sweet and thoughtful to Stella, he cares about her, he worries about her, and he's devoted to her. Henry seems content to wait and give Stella her space while she figures out if she feels anything towards him... all the while, maintaining their friendship in a way that puts no pressure or guilt on her. And then Levi comes along.

We are given no information on Levi except that he's new at school and super sexy and all the girls want him - even, gasp, the most popular girl in school. So naturally he gravitates towards Stella and the moment that the smallest iota of attention is paid to her, Stella casts Henry to the side and becomes completely wrapped up in Levi. There are certain plot points that explain Levi's attraction to Stella but I can't find anything in the story that can convince me of why she so suddenly and deeply becomes infatuated with him. Sorry but I just don't buy it.

All in all - meh. The story was great until about page 101 which was exactly when I began guessing about the twist and close to the time that Stella's character began to nose dive. I would suggest this book to anyone who enjoys horror along the lines of Mara Dyer, but who also enjoys insta-love relationships.

Happy reading.

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