Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: The Raft by S.A. Bodeen

Title: The Raft
Author: SA Bodeen
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: August 21st 2012
Pages: 231
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: NetGalley
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Robie is an experienced traveler. She’s taken the flight from Honolulu to the Midway Atoll, a group of Pacific islands where her parents live, many times. When she has to get to Midway in a hurry after a visit with her aunt in Hawaii, she gets on the next cargo flight at the last minute. She knows the pilot, but on this flight, there’s a new co-pilot named Max. All systems are go until a storm hits during the flight. The only passenger, Robie doesn’t panic until the engine suddenly cuts out and Max shouts at her to put on a life jacket. They are over miles of Pacific Ocean. She sees Max struggle with a raft.
And then . . . she’s in the water. Fighting for her life. Max pulls her onto the raft, and that’s when the real terror begins. They have no water. Their only food is a bag of Skittles. There are sharks. There is an island. But there’s no sign of help on the way.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Going in with basically no expectations, I was pleasantly surprised by The Raft. It isn't perfect, but it's a good read with an unusual type of story for contemporary YA, and I'm glad I picked it up.

I'd have thought that this might get a little boring, Robie just sitting on that raft for days without much happening, but that is so not the case - The Raft is fast-paced and action-packed. Robie has to deal with loads of different dangers, and it never gets boring. Those parts almost didn't read like contemporary, since you usually only get that much life-or-death danger and fast-paced action in dystopians, paranormal, etc. I was fearing for Robie's life throughout the book.

Nature plays a very important role in The Raft. There are those dangers for Robie, but there are also scenes where Robie just observes the nature she encounters on the raft and on the island. That might sound boring, but it wasn't, at least not to me. Those scenes have a slower pace than the survival ones, but I still really liked them, because they're not something you read about every day. Those scenes kind of made me love and hate nature, at the same time.

The twist is what I liked best about The Raft. There were some things I didn't like in the beginning, that didn't make sense or didn't seem realistic to me, but it all worked with that twist. I never saw it coming, and it changed everything about how I looked at the story. The unexpected twist is what made it all woth it, to me, despite the issues I had with other aspects of the novel.

I'm not sure what to make of Robie's character. She's not always likeable because she does get kind of whiny, and there were times I was annoyed by her crying all the time and wasting resources and being too much of a wimp to, you know, do something. But in a way, I feel that I can't judge her for that - what she has to go through is terrible, and I doubt I'd be strong and rational all the time if I went through something like that.

Max's story, I didn't care for much, to be honest. If it were just his story, I would have really liked reading about everything we find out about his background and his past. But as a small part of this novel, I didn't really see the point; it didn't add all that much to the story, to me.

I would have liked to know some more about the emotional aspect of all of this. I didn't feel like the reader got to see the full psychological impact of what happens; I wanted to know more about how a disaster like this can change a person.

If you're looking for a deep exploration of the emotional aspect of disaster or for great character development, The Raft pobably isn't for you. But I enjoyed The Raft simply for what it is - a fast-paced survival story. It won't be going on my favorites shelf, but it was a quick read that kept me flipping the pages.


  1. Good that it isn't boring! Sometimes I find these survival stories tedious, because really you KNOW they'll live because otherwise what's the point of it all.

    Too bad she's a whiny main character though - I get the fear when she realizes she's in the middle of the ocean.

    Hopefully the twist isn't that she's dreaming the whole thing or that Max wants to kill her and did all this on purpose.

    1. Yeah, I sometimes have a hard time with survival stories, too. You DO know that she'll make it, but I think SA Bodeen managed to make it interesting anyways. And it is different from those issue-type contemps because you can't relate it to your own life, but, I don't know, I didn't mind that much. It just read more like a dystopian or something.

      No, that's not the twist! It's better than that :)

      And yes! I'm really looking forward to Survive - sounds so good!!

    2. Okay, now if that's not the twist it must be REALLY GOOD!!

      Have you read The Forsaken by Lisa Stasse? It's a survival story dystopian - which sounds really cool as the teens are left to die on an island and they have to escape:)

    3. It's not a huge and crazy twist in itself - like, if I told you now, you probably wouldn't be impressed. But the way it's worked into the story and how the author managed to trick is really well-done, in my opinion :)

      I haven't read The Forsaken yet, but it's on my wishlist!

    4. I know the twists you mean! They're story specific, but totally blows you out of the water in terms of how it affects characters.

      Anna Dressed in Blood had that kind of twist. It's by Kendare Blake, a paranormal, but with a ghost who would be absolutely perfect for an issue contemp.

    5. Yes, exactly :) I've heard good things about Anna Dressed in Blood, but I don't think I'll be reading it, to be honest - sounds too paranormal for me. Sorry :(

  2. You know why I don't think I relate to survival books? Because it's so hard to really feel the main character's journey - it's so alien, so far from everyday life that you can't really learn from it like you do from an issue contemp, of course you can't also relate to the main character as well, and I think the plot and the action take over from the main character's inner journey:)

  3. Am I missing all good books on Netgalley? I want to read something packed in action but contemporary, yay!

  4. This sounds really different from what I was expecting it to be. Well, I really had no expectations like you did, but I didn't think this would be a fast paced survival story. I'm even more excited for this book! Nice review:)

  5. Found another survival story that's also an issue contemp - it's Survive by Alex Morel and it's about a girl who's on a flight and determined to kill herself after being released from a mental health facility. Then the plane crashes with only one other survivor, a boy, and they get stranded. They both have to find the will to live.

    It sounds REALLY good!


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