Book Review: I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall

Survival. Loneliness. Grief. Determination.

These are just a few of the words that strongly stick out to describe what Marshall’s I Am Still Alive is about. While it’s a Young Adult novel, the grittiness that covers the pages gives it an older feel; maybe because stories like these encompass themes and ideas that are timeless.

Jess is alone. Her cabin has burned to the ground. She knows if she doesn’t act fast, the cold will kill her before she has time to worry about food. But she is still alive—for now.

Jess hadn’t seen her survivalist, off-the-grid dad in over a decade. But after a car crash killed her mother and left her injured, she was forced to move to his cabin in the remote Canadian wilderness. Just as Jess was beginning to get to know him, a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving her father dead and Jess stranded.

With only her father’s dog for company, Jess must forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. Some days it feels like the wild is out to destroy her, but she’s stronger than she ever imagined.

Jess will survive. She has to. She knows who killed her father… and she wants revenge

This book ended up being not what I expected at all; a small mixture of in a good and bad way.

While we get snippets of Jess’ interactions with her father when she first arrives, the story is mostly about what happens when her father’s past leaves her stranded in a completely wild place.

I found the overall story and plot line to be very engaging even if a little slow paced. Reading about Jess’ varying emotions left me enthralled. To me, this story is a well balanced mixture of plot driven and character driven.

Because of that mixture, Jess felt very real yet at the same time unreal. I don’t know if it’s because I couldn’t imagine going through what she was, particularly finding oneself stranded in an unknown, remote part of wilderness. What was cool to read about was Jess’ unique development from beginning to end.

Marshall’s writing, while not unique, was great. She did an excellent job of weaving the story together, developing Jess, and being able to evoke some emotion from me. The only thing that didn’t live up to expectation was the amount of grittiness; because I knew from the blurb that Jess would be surviving on her own, I expected her to know/ remember some of the survivalist info from her dad. That was disappointing, but did not lessen my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, a solid read!

Have you read this YA story of survival? What other books centered around survival have you enjoyed reading?

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