Alive by Scott Sigler

alive-scott-siglerBibliographic Information:

  • Publisher, Date: Del Rey, 2015
  • Edition: First
  • Description: 345 pages; 22 cm.
  • Interest Level: YA
  • Summary: “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.”  Retrieved from
  • ISBN: 978-0-553-39310-1
  • Subjects:
    • Space Travel – Fiction
    • Diseases, Juvenile – Fiction
    • Survival Scenarios – Fiction

Reader’s Annotation: I killed the thing that was attacking me in my coffin.  I’ll do the same to anyone who tries to keep me locked up in this place.

Plot Summary:  Em is awakened by something stabbing her in the neck and finds herself both under attack and confined, in what she takes to be a coffin.  How she got there and where she is a mystery to her that she immediately knows must be solved.  After freeing herself she finds another girl in another coffin who she frees.  Together they find and free others, all young adults who believed themselves to be about twelve but are all around nineteen or twenty.  Together they work to figure out who they are, where they are, and how to get out.  There is no food or water, and there is evidence that someone is in there with them who is dangerous.  Each of them came from a coffin-like container and they find others that contain dead children, with evidence that someone damaged the coffins and killed the inhabitants.  Added to that is the conflict between them that is developing as their shock wears off and their personalities begin to reemerge.  The battle to lead the group eventually leads to conflict and death but Em is determined to get them out alive regardless of any threats, from within or without.

Critical Evaluation:  Scott Sigler is a writer of science fiction horror for adult readers and he does a good job with the kind of material he writes.  Alive is his first attempt at breaching the Young Adult market and it is less than successful.  While the book is interesting and not a bad read, it fails as a YA book because the characters don’t feel like young adults.   They feel like adults, and this is to be expected once you realize what they actually are.  Moreover, the characters are generally unpleasant and unlikeable.  I know that was probably deliberate as the personalities of the escapees were a reflection of who they really were but in order for a reader to care about them there needs to be some degree of likability and they really had little to none.  The other problem I had with the book is that the pace is slow and Sigler spends too much time trying to get to the point of the story.  I understand that the idea was the group was trying to get out of a maze or whatever it was they were trapped in but it took so long it became tedious.  If the purpose was to create tension, it failed.  Overall, Sigler did what may writers of adult fiction do when they try to write YA books; he created a story with less violence, less sex, and with young characters and thought he’d written a YA novel.  But it, like many other attempts by writers of adult fiction, falls short because he didn’t really create believable young adults, just characters who are young.

Author’s Brief Bio:  “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.”  Retrieved from

Genre Designation: YA Science Fiction

Possible Curriculum Links:

  • Space Travel
  • Cloning

Book Talk Ideas: What would be the first thing you’d do if you woke up in a place and didn’t know how you got there or where you were?

Materials Relating to Potential Challenges:


Why this book was selected.  I’ve read some of Sigler’s adult materials and wanted to see if he could successfully bridge the gap between adult and young adult while still being interesting.


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