For fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Red Rising comes a gripping sci-fi adventure in which a group of teenagers wake up in a mysterious corridor with no knowledge of who they are or how they got trapped. Their only hope lies with an indomitable young woman who must lead them not only to answers but to survival.
“I open my eyes to darkness. Total darkness. I hear my own breathing, but nothing else. I lift my head . . . it thumps against something solid and unmoving. There is a board right in front of my face. No, not a board . . . a lid.”
A teenage girl awakens to find herself trapped in a coffin. She has no idea who she is, where she is, or how she got there. Fighting her way free brings little relief—she discovers only a room lined with caskets and a handful of equally mystified survivors. Beyond their room lies a corridor filled with bones and dust, but no people . . . and no answers.
She knows only one thing about herself—her name, M. Savage, which was engraved on the foot of her coffin—yet she finds herself in charge. She is not the biggest among them, or the boldest, but for some reason the others trust her. Now, if they’re to have any chance, she must get them to trust one another.
Whatever the truth is, she is determined to find it and confront it. If she has to lead, she will make sure they survive. Maybe there’s a way out, a rational explanation, and a fighting chance against the dangers to come. Or maybe a reality they cannot comprehend lies just beyond the next turn.
Praise for Alive
“Suspenseful . . . [Alive] lives up to its hype, packing plenty of thrills.”—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, Scott Sigler’s Alive gives us an unforgettable young hero who must find the inner strength to lead without knowing where she is, who she is, and how bitterly the odds are stacked against her.”—Pierce Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Red Rising
“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*** hits the fan, which it most certainly does.”—Veronica Belmont, host of Sword & Laser
“A tense, unsettling page-turner of a story—both deeply strange and wildly compelling.”—Cherie Priest, author of Boneshaker and Maplecroft
“From the first page I was hooked. The puzzle unfolds masterfully, right down to the last page.”—Dr. Phil Plait, author of Bad Astronomy
About the Author
Scott Sigler is the New York Times bestselling 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.
Read an Excerpt
A stabbing pain jolts me awake.
It hits quick but deep, a here-then-gone stinging where my neck meets my shoulder.
Did something bite me?
No . . . just a dream. A nightmare, maybe.
That’s not how I should wake up on my birthday. I’m twelve. I can hardly believe it—I’m twelve, I’m not a little kid anymore. I should get to sleep in, I should get to sleep all day. There should be cake, and my friends, and I shouldn’t have to go to school.
The thought of that place chases away my excitement. I’m so tired. Feels like I’ve never slept at all. If I missed my alarm, I’ll be late for classes again. Mom will kill me. I don’t want to go. At school, the tooth-girls and the circle-stars always make fun of me. And I shouldn’t be teased on my birthday. I hate school, I hate them, I . . .
A tingling coolness on my neck, right where I felt that sting. Tickling, spreading . . .
. . . am I bleeding?
I open my eyes to darkness. Total darkness. I hear my own breathing, but nothing else. And . . . and I can’t move. Curved bars, cool and rough, hold my wrists by my sides. I roll my hands, trying to slip free, but the bars are so tight they scrape against my skin.
The word sounds too loud, almost a scream. Something is wrong. My voice sounds odd . . . kind of muffled.
Mom doesn’t answer.
I pull harder, but it’s not only my wrists that can’t move—something holds my ankles, and my hips are pinned so tight I can’t even turn.
This isn’t my bedroom. This isn’t my house. My parents aren’t here.
My chest seems to squeeze in, as if it is clamping down on my hammering heart. My body tingles, every ounce of me screaming Get up! Getupgetupgetup!
“Is anyone there?”
“Someone help me. This is . . .”
My breath catches.
I don’t know my own name.
I thrash and pull, yank desperately at the unforgiving bars holding me down.
“Someone, help me!”
No one answers.
I scream so hard it tears at my throat. Someone had to hear that. Someone has to come get me, come help me.
I lift my head—my forehead clonks against something solid and unmoving. That’s why my voice sounded funny: there is a board right in front of my face.
No, not a board . . . a lid.
Padding beneath me and at my sides.
I am in . . .
. . . oh no, oh no . . .
. . . am I in a coffin?
“Help! Somebody get me out of here!”
The pain that woke me plunges into my neck again, a sting so deep it locks me up, all tight-eyed and rigid and frozen.
I am trapped in the dark and something is biting me.
(If you run, your enemy will hunt you. Kill your enemy, and you are forever free.)
That thought seems familiar, a memory that stuck. Rage blossoms, gives me the focus to move despite my agony, gives me the strength to try harder. I pull and push, lift and twist. I focus all my strength on my right hand—pull, dammit—the skin of my wrist tears against the rough material, but I have to get out. . . .
Pull, push, twist, yank, harder and harder until my coffin rattles.
I feel the bar crack. I can move my right hand more. Only a little, but I can move it more.
The sting slides deeper into my neck, and I cry out.
No one came before, no one will come now.
Will it hit a lung? Pierce my heart?
Will I die?
I jerk so hard the bones in my wrists grind against the bars holding them down. I hear another small crack, then another—my right hand flies free.
I slide my fingers up my body to my neck, blindly grab at the thing slicing into me. My hand locks down on wetness, slickness, a cold snake that moves and wiggles. It’s trying to slither away, but I have it and I won’t let go. I yank it to my mouth and bite down, taste something horrid, crush my teeth together so hard my jaw hurts. I thrash my head, I bite harder—something inside of it crunches.
It falls limp in my hand and mouth. I fling it aside, then spit, trying to get that vile taste off my tongue.
Right hand to left wrist. I grab the restraint. Its surface crumbles at my touch, powder falling away to reveal pitted hardness beneath. Right hand yanking, left fist lifting, the cracking sound comes quickly and my left hand is free.
Both hands grab the bar that curves across my waist. I attack it, push-pull-push-pull-push-pull, making the whole coffin shake around me. The bar breaks.
Now for my feet.
The lid is so close to my face and chest that my hands can reach down only to my thighs. I’m wearing some kind of short skirt? I must reach farther, must keep trying. I have to get out, whatever it takes. I twist to my right hip, use the ankle restraints as resistance to wiggle my body lower, reach down with my left hand. My shoulder and face drag against the coffin’s smooth lid, pulling at my cheek and nose and closed eye, but even then my fingers barely touch my knees.
I must pull harder, harder, I must keep fighting, must get out of the darkness. If I can’t reach my feet, I will die here alone and screaming and—
—my fingertip brushes the rough bars pinning my ankles. So close, just a little farther. Contorted muscles and twisted bones vibrate with pain as I wedge in even tighter, but finally my left hand grips a bar. Grab and shake and yank, must get loose . . .
Crack, crack—both feet come free.
I slide up the coffin until I am again flat on my back. I press my palms against the lid.
I push: it doesn’t budge. I’m not strong enough.
Think. think. You have to get out. . . .
I need to use my arms and my legs, use all of me. . . .
I twist and turn until I’m lying on my stomach. There isn’t enough room to get all the way to my hands and knees, but I push down as hard as I can while I arch my back against the lid. Sweat drips into my eyes. Sweat and maybe blood. I press until my back screams . . .
. . . something in the lid snaps.
A sliver of blinding light hits the bed of my coffin, so bright it burns to look at it. I close my eyes and push even harder. I feel the lid lift, just a little, enough for me to slide my knees all the way beneath me.
(Attack, attack, when in doubt, always attack, never let your enemy recover.)
I take a breath, focus, and shove upward with everything I have left.
The shuddering complaint of something bending and tearing. At the end of the fight, the strong lid breaks like a brittle shell—I am up and out and standing . . .
. . . and falling.
I land hard, kicking up a thick cloud of something powdery. My heaving lungs suck it in. The floor spins and whirls beneath me, and there is light everywhere, so bright it stings even through clenched eyes.
Lying on my side, I blink, trying to see. I cough, trying to breathe. I wait for my eyes to adjust, hoping they do before whoever locked me in the coffin comes to put me back inside once again.
The light blinds me, makes my eyes water. Grainy dust on my tongue, coating my raw throat, so deep in my lungs it makes me cough again and again. The noise might bring the people who did this to me, but I can’t stop. I can’t see, I’m too weak to move.
I am helpless.
The coughing fit eases. My body relaxes enough for me to sit up. I pull my knees to my chest, wrap my arms tight around my legs. I rub my wrists; the rough bars ripped my skin raw.
My coffin was warm. I broke it open, hatched from it, and now I’m in this cold room. I’m shivering. I’m out, yes, but alone, exhausted and terrified.
Where are my mom and dad? Why aren’t they here? Where is here, anyway?
I smell things I don’t fully recognize. Dry odors, stale scents. This place smells . . . dead.
The light still stings, but not as much. I can finally see a little.
Gray. The dust is gray. It blankets everything, hangs in the air, floating specks that spin with my every breath.
My neck throbs where that thing bit me. I reach for the spot. A shirt. I’m wearing a shirt, and a tie. I slide my hand inside the collar, feel the wound . . . my fingers come away with a pasty mix of dust and blood.
I look at what I’m wearing: white button-down shirt, the short skirt—which is red and black plaid—black socks that end a bit below my knee, no shoes. My shirt feels tight. The sleeves end halfway between my elbow and wrist. The tie is red, embroidered with a yellow and black circle of tiny images. White thread in the middle of that circle spells a word: MICTLAN.
I have no idea what that means. And these clothes . . . are they mine?
My vision is blurry; I can’t see anything but my coffin. Sitting on the dusty floor, I’m too low to look inside it. The lid split evenly down the middle, from top to bottom. The half closest to me slid neatly against the side. The far half sticks straight up. Maybe I broke that half, bent something so it can’t move like it’s supposed to.
Parts of the lid gleam under the lights—bloody finger streaks, I realize, from where I grabbed it, wiping away the thin layer of dust that clings to the surface.
Why won’t someone come and help me?
The thing that bit my neck . . . what if it’s still alive? What if it’s in the coffin, coiling, getting ready to slither out and attack me again? I don’t want to look inside, but no one else is here and I need to know it’s dead.
If I don’t, it could hunt me.
I reach for the coffin’s edge, use it to pull myself up. My legs don’t want to work. They tremble and twitch as I rise and look inside.
White fabric, torn in many places, smeared with long streaks of wet red and a few light spots of powdery crimson. Loose padding shows beneath the rips.
A bloody, white pillow. Next to it, a limp, white snake.
No, not a snake: a tube.
A tube that ends in a long, glistening needle. Its white skin is torn where I bit it, showing some kind of black fibers beneath.
I watch the tube for a little while. It doesn’t move. It’s dead, because I killed it.
I pick up a piece of the bar that held my waist. The surface is deeply pitted, crumbly with that crimson powder . . . rust, maybe? Rust that ate away much of the metal, making the bar thin and brittle. Had it been solid, there is no way I could have broken free.
My eyes aren’t stinging anymore. They’ve stopped watering. I can see the rest of the room.
There are eleven more coffins. Two parallel rows of six, lined up end to end. A wide aisle filled with a flat sea of untouched gray separates the rows. The thick dust coats the coffins, makes hard edges look like soft curves.
I was in the last one in the left-hand row. I can see it clearly now, see all the detail. It is decorated with intricate carvings: cartoonish people with big noses and huge, wild headdresses; squat pyramids with lots of steps; simple versions of the sun; big cats with exaggerated eyes and tooth-filled snarls.
This room is long and narrow, like it was made specifically to hold these coffins. It doesn’t seem that bright in here now that my eyes have gotten used to it—the arched ceiling has only a few lights that work, barely enough to illuminate stone walls that are covered with gray-coated carvings.
At the far end of the room, I see an archway. In that archway . . . doors, maybe? They look heavy and solid, but I don’t see any handles.
Something at the foot of my coffin catches my eye. A flat area, about the size of my hand, surrounded by dozens of small bumps, all of it hazed in puffy gray.
I reach out, trembling, and brush dust from one of the small shapes. It’s a jewel: deep orange, glowing like frozen fire.
I wipe clear the flat area. It’s engraved with seven letters and one period.
Is that my name?
I hear something. A small sound. Very quiet, very faint. It makes me think of being trapped in the dark, and then I realize why.
It’s a girl’s scream, coming from inside another coffin.
My wobbly legs still can’t quite support me. I lean on the coffins to stay on my feet, stumble my way toward the scream.
Each step kicks up a small cloud of dust, as if I am the first person ever to set foot here.
The noisy coffin is halfway up the left-hand row. As I get closer, I can make out faint words coming from within.
“Help me! Mommy, get me out of here!”
I put my hand on the dust-caked lid. I feel tiny vibrations: the girl inside is struggling. I think of that long, bloody needle jutting from the white tube.
With big swipes, I brush the dust from her coffin, accidentally creating a brief fog. The polished carvings gleam under the lights.
I rap my knuckles on the lid; her screaming stops.
“Calm down,” I say. “I’ll try and get you out.”
There is a pause. Then she speaks, the coffin cutting the volume of her words but not the desperation they carry.
“Who are you?”
Who am I? No idea. Somehow, I don’t think telling her I’m Savage is going to make her less afraid. I don’t even have a first name, only an initial, but maybe that will work.
“My name is Em. What’s yours?”
“I . . . I don’t know.”
A feeling of relief explodes inside of me, so intense I almost fall down again: I’m not the only one.
I have to get this girl out.
“Are there bars holding you down?”
“Something is,” she says. “I don’t know what, I can’t see anything. I can’t move. It’s so dark in here, please help me!”
“I told you to stay calm.” My voice echoes off the stone walls, and I hear how harsh it sounds. She’s afraid, she’s trapped; yelling at her isn’t going to help.
“It’s okay,” I say in a softer tone. “Listen, you have to break those bars.”
“Break them?” Her voice cracks. “I tried, they’re too thick!”
“Try harder. I broke mine.”
Another pause. I listen to her grunting and struggling, then hear the raw terror carried on her words.
“I can’t break them, I told you I’m not strong enough. Get me out, please get me out!”
I slap the lid, hard.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wonderful page turner! Cannot wait to read the next one in the series. ~*~LEB~*~
Not a pleasure to read, and really boring after a while. Huge cliffhanger at the end. I don't know how this is getting good reviews.
Good young adult sci-fi.
They had me at Hunger Games. It was also similar to Maze Runner. As I read my mind was conjuring up creatures from Avatar. The story line is amazingly creative. It was so engaging I could not put it down. The main character’s self-talk was somewhat cheesy at times. But I realized the necessity to convey the emotions and thoughts. Excellent story. I highly recommend this trilogy.
It is great couldn't be better
There’s more than 300 pages in this book, but you wouldn’t know it. The action continues throughout, always offering hope as well as further complications. When the children finally discover their actual reality, it may not be enough for them to survive. The writing is so compelling that this isn’t a problem for the reader. You’ll want to just keep turning the pages to find out the answers and no, I’m not going to give any of them away here. What I can tell you is that the author has done an excellent job conveying the thoughts, internal emotions, and social behavior of a young girl and a group of kids who have no idea who they are, where they are, or what they need to do to keep alive and sane while also telling their story in a way that keeps the reader engaged at all time. While the children do eventually find some answers and a momentary solution to their most pressing needs, the book does not provide any easy answers as it questions the very nature of identity itself.
The author and publisher of Alive requested that the bloggers chosen to review the book not reveal too much information about the story line. I am in complete agreement with this request because I feel that you appreciate the book so much more if you don’t know too much about it. This review was very difficult for me to write as I could not highlight my favorite parts of the story nor talk about the characters or character development in-depth without spoiling some major plot twists. That being said, this review will be short and to the point as well as rather vague. Let me begin by saying that I have mixed emotions about Alive. While I was intrigued by the plot and captivated by the premise of the book, I could have just as easily put it down and walked away from it as well. I’m not sure if it is because I don’t normally read Sci-Fi or because it is not my preferred genre, but this book just didn’t work for me. When I read a book and I’m really entertained by the story, I can’t stop thinking about it. I love when a book has the ability to completely draw you in but unfortunately this one didn’t, and that really disappointed me. Because I could not connect with the characters emotionally, I felt as if I never really got to know them. Alive was very similar to the Maze Runner in the sense that there were many different characters involved in the storyline. The author did a great job in the presentation of the characters because having so many never became confusing or overwhelming. That being said, I was still unable to relate to the protagonist and I guess that is what made it difficult to enjoy. I admire that the story was very entertaining however, I wish that at least one of the characters was like able. I feel that Scott Sigler’s ability to tell a story and weave together an interesting and intricate plot was this book’s strong point. The book is split up into three parts. After the first part I was ready to DNF because I was not connecting with the story. Thank goodness that I didn’t put it down because parts two and three totally made up for the slow pace of part one. I became very involved in the plot and it held my interest. The revelation at the end of the story was a completely unexpected twist that I really enjoyed . In conclusion I just felt that the story was lacking in like able characters. I would however definitely recommend it to a sci-fi lover because I’m sure that they would really enjoy reading Alive.
I really enjoyed this book. The mystery of it was fantastic. My full review can be found here --> https://bookaddictkels.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/alive-by-scott-sigler/
**I received an ARC of this story in exchange for an honest review** Em wakes up in a coffin, strapped and barred in. She breaks free and finds 11 other coffins in the room. She hears a girl scream in one of the coffins and helps her get out. They find four more living people among the other 10 coffins. They realized they were all hungry. With no food in the room, they leave and go down a hall. They decided Em would lead since she got herself out and helped the others. Em was scared but still decided to lead. She knew inside herself it was the right thing to do. She was a person of action, when tough decisions had to be made she made them, even if it angered the others. She was mentally strong and determined. She did what she had to do to make her people survive. I was surprised how much I liked this story. It's not really something I'd usually read but I couldn't put it down. The characters were great as was the plot and overall story. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys sci fi.
Solid start to a new series. It might not be your new favorite, but it is worth the read and action filled. And I can't wait until book 2!!! Check out my full video review at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKvIfsDI-VA.
Alive is not what I expected from Scott Sigler, his SciFi roots are there and he flourishes. Yet the elements of his horror also rear their head as he sprinkles them throughout the story. The real gem however is the main character M. Savage, the way she addresses, faces, and questions what she perceives versus the actuality which is a delight to watch unfold. There is a gradual build up and over time you find yourself rooting for Savage You begin to gain appreciation as you understand the world she is in, and become as desperate for her and company to survive. The rest of the cast of characters are stereotypes you know and love from this type of story, but they aren’t cardboard cutouts just filling the pages. That being said they do feel a bit underwhelming, as the story is from M.Savages point of view and the internal dialog that fills her out we can only guess at from the others, this I feel is why they are character stereotypes as to help us understand them a bit better. Some are fun, some you hate, some you start to hate a little less, and some well don’t make it. Just like any Sigler story everyone is on the chopping block until the final words of the final page. This is Sigler’s first step into the world of Survival Scifi, and its pretty well done. There are unanswered questions that make you want to read the next, and it doesn’t detract from the story or feel like a clumsy money grab. I just hope in the next story we get some chapters from some of the other characters, because even as awesome as Ripley was in Alien we still needed and got time with the rest of the ships crew to make this world and the story better across the board. With all this being said, I recommend Alive by Scott Sigler wholeheartedly.
This is a difficult review to write - not because I disliked the book, but because I don't want to give away any spoilers, so this will be short and sweet. When Em first awakes in the enclosed space, I felt like I was with her and for someone who is slightly claustrophobic, my heart was pounding as fast as hers. As the plot progresses, several other characters are introduced in various ways, each of them trying to figure out who and what they are. Alive made me feel like I was dropped in the middle of a chocolate factory, but without the keys to the tasting room - and I'm a ravenous chocoholic. Several hints are dropped about an intriguing backstory, so I look forward to learning more about it in the next book. With such a great opening scene that reaches out and yanks you in, I expected this to be a fast-paced story - the book isn't very long, but there seemed to be an extended lull soon after. I think the plot could have been a little tighter if so much time wasn't spent walking through hallways. Alive will appeal to sci-fi and dystopian fans. This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.
You know, ive been wondering if it is okay to hate satan. God says love thine enemy or something close to that, but its near impossible to love satan.
I am Catholic and I love God!!!!!!!!!!! (I'm also the writer of LMS and MAP);)
Im here to chat
I really need an answer to this qiestion. Does daniel radcliffe smoke? Please answer asap.~gnd3.
I think ill quit. Too young....dont belong.
Hi guys, im new and i just saw your post on hunger games res. 1. Are we actully going to talk about God or not? Just wonderig.... -Britt Nicole
Hey guys reneber me? I havent been on in like a year
Hey! :) spread the word!!!!!! :D