Review Blog

Sep 06 2012

Survive by Alex Morel

cover image

Hardie Grant Egmont, 2012. ISBN 978-174297306-7.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Jane Solis who is living in a mental health facility for troubled teenagers after her suicide attempt a year ago is making a trip home to her mother's for the holiday period. Through Jane's first person narration the reader quickly learns that whilst Jane intends boarding the flight home she will not land at her destination; alive that is.  Jane has planned the perfect suicide. Simply written Morel encapsulates the inner pain Jane feels as she describes her life and the events that led her to this decision.
Fate however has other plans and what starts out as a quest for death becomes a fight for survival when the plane Jane is on crashes on a remote snow covered mountaintop. There are only two survivors Jane and Paul Hart, a young man she met on the plane and doesn't particularly like. Paul has some outdoor skills and is physically fit but Jane who has been in the facility for some time is not.  Still they quickly realise that no-one will find them where they are and they need to get off the mountain if they are to survive.  
As Jane and Paul unite to fight for survival we learn that Paul too has some unresolved issues and the race to survive also becomes a race to escape the past for both of them. Graphic descriptions of the harrowing events that occur as they try to make their way off the mountain create a heart pounding adventure but are tempered with the poignant imagery of the burgeoning friendship and love that develops between the pair.
I have never had the inclination to physically harm myself but as a high school teacher have had students who self-harm and/or have suicidal tendencies. Thus when I started to read Survive my first reaction was one of disquiet as I pondered how this complex issue would be dealt with so as not to glorify this issue but also not to underestimate the despair felt by many young people today which can lead to self-harming and suicide. I needn't have worried; author Alex Morel handled it beautifully. Ultimately Survive is a novel that will stay with you long after you have read it.
Denise Russell

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