Review: Alive by Chandler Baker

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Alive by Chandler BakerAlive by Chandler Baker
Published by Disney Hyperion on June 9, 2015
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

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?

From the moment I heard about Alive, I was incredibly excited to read it – it sounded amazing! But when I first started reading it, I had a lot of trouble getting into it. The first 46 pages were incredibly slow and flat. I was tempted to DNF, but I kept going because I snuck a peak at a semi-spoilerish Goodreads review and what I read had me intrigued! In the end, I stayed up until 3:30am to finsh it – In total, I read 311 pages in 7 hours – because I couldn’t put it down!

I wasn’t a huge fan of any of the characters. Usually for me, not connecting with the characters is an automatic DNF. But the story itself intrigued me enough that I kept going. But I had a love/hate relationship with these characters throughout the whole book. First of all, I have no idea how any of them were friends or how any of them could hang out in the same group – They were all so nasty to each other! I know friends fight sometimes, but wow! They almost never stopped being rude and mean to each other. It was ridiculous!

Sometimes, Stella was great. In the first chapter, I felt her panic so intensely, it was like I was the one going in for surgery! But at other times, she was rude and mean, abandoning her friends for a guy she barely knew and saying the nastiest things. Henry kept pressuring Stella to define what their relationship was – Um, dude! She just went through heart transplant surgery!!! Let her breathe!!! But other than that and his intense dislike for Levi, he was actually the calmest/nicest of the characters and I felt bad for the way Stella was treating him. And Brynne was just snippy and brutally honest.

I liked Levi a lot at first. He seemed really great and I loved his chemistry with Stella. But it quickly became clear that something wasn’t right. He lied to Stella a lot and he became very possessive. At one point, he even becomes a bit abusive. But then there’s a major twist with his story and.. Wow.

This is not your run-of-the-mill contemporary. I don’t know how much to say without spoiling it, but it has a lot of supernatural elements to it, especially in the second half of the book. I had so many crazy theories running through my head, it made me dizzy. And every few chapters, my theories changed. In the end, I was half-right. But the mystery and suspense of it kept me awake until well after 3am. I don’t scare easily (I LOVE horror and scary things!), but at one point, I was actually super creeped out. And I don’t think I could have gone to sleep even if I’d tried! Plus, I was so desperate to discover what what happening, there was no way I could put the book down until I was finished.

Overall, this was a really intriguing book. It started out slow, but once it picked up speed, it never slowed down. It kept me hooked with twists and turns, kept me guessing and theorizing, until the very last page. Like I said, 311 pages in 7 hours… *Nods.* So I definitely recommend this one, especially if you like creepy/scary and books with supernatural elements. If you go into this book thinking it’s a straight-up contemporary, you may be disappointed. But give it a shot – try to push past the first 50 pages and give it a chance! I’m very excited to see what this author does next!

PS: The only thing I could have done without – seriously!!!! – was the detailed sound description of a one-year-old throwing up. I actually had to put this book down for a bit because it made me feel physically sick. Scenes in books and movies with people throwing up make me gag and feel like I’M gonna throw up – I blame it on the fact that I got Strep 3-4 times a year from the time I was 18-months-old until I was 10-years-old and, without fail, I threw up each time I was sick. So even though I know that NO ONE likes to throw up, it’s particularly triggering for me. So yeah. Just a little pet peeve of mine! *Shudders*