We Survivors Book Review: For the Fans of Collins' THE HUNGER GAMES

Review Copy Courtesy of L.J. Thomas Books and NetGalley

“The game was really a simple question: what would I give up to have things back the way they were? Eventually I had to limit myself, because the answer was always: anything. My hearing, my sight, any or all of my limbs. So I set the bar lower. What would I give for a day?”

-L.J. Thomas

Image Courtesy of L.J. Thomas Books

Within the science fiction genre, the number of young adult novels set in constructed dystopian worlds that shows hour our current actions could affect our imminent future has exponentially risen. We Survivors, penned by L.J. Thomas, takes a bold stab at the tradition, narrating its story from the perspective of four teenagers who remain alive after the apocalyptic event The End killed the rest of Earth’s population in waves. Initially living the lonely, but necessarily wilderness lifestyle, each of the characters work to overcome their own personal struggles while also working together to find survivors and confront a larger obstacle. Though somewhat cliché and dull at times, Thomas has beautifully created a layered adolescent dystopian novel of the youth needing to survive in a destroyed world but doesn’t shy away from dealing with mental health and regular teenage issues.

Nadia thought she was the last survivor. The last living person on Earth; but that all changed when she heard a single coming from her radio, from a person named Jake. Relieved that she was not alone, Nadia agrees to meet Jake, following several months of communication over the radio. The meeting, the first type of face-to-communication since Nadia’s father died, was the beginning of finding the reason for The End. Deciding to stick together, the two then find two more survivors, Zara and Coby, who plan to search for the reason for their survival. To find their purpose and look for other survivors, the four teenagers then begin the initially somewhat pleasant journey.

Gradually, the four begin to deal with their own struggles as they grow closer as a group. One deals with mental health issues due to her losses and prolonged isolation, one with survivor’s guilt over the death of his brother, another with the accidental murder of someone close to her, and the last of lying to those who trust him. Even with their own inner conflicts, the group begins to trust one another and support even each other like a family, something each of them missed. Furthermore, with each additional piece of information that leads to their connected history, something else is thrown at them, mounting to an incredible narrative peak. These events lead up to a major plot shift which then concludes the remainder of the novel as well as ties any loose ends from the beginning. Why are the four the only survivors? Are there any others? How long will the survivors survive?

Overall, We Survivors was a brisk, enjoyable read, clicking along at a solid speed, despite some numerable flaws. While Thomas does a fine enough job at giving each character development as the novel progresses, the relationships between characters often seemed rushed and somewhat undeveloped. After Nadia first hears Jake, they communicate over radio and then meet once the first act truly kicks off. The two’s initial meeting was far too friendly especially for a first face-to-face meeting in the apocalypse. Furthermore, the growing relationship between Zara and another character who appears later also seemed rushed, lacking the necessary substance backbone. None of these issues truly compromise the novel, serving more as the soft thorns in a rich, juicy slab of meat.

Image Courtesy of L.J. Thomas Books

For those who enjoyed Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games, Marie Lu’s Legend, and other dystopian young adult novels, We Survivors is a fabulous novel that melds the common survival aspects of dystopian novels with the mental health issues of a dark adult thriller. It’s one of the most enjoyable indie releases I’ve read this year, exploring relatable themes against the backdrop of a truly engaging plot. We Survivors may have made me wary at first, but by the end, I had truly been transported into the desolate and barren world that Thomas has so meticulously built. Simply put, readers won’t be disappointed.

After disease and nuclear warfare decimate the world population, 17-year-old Nadia is sure she's the last person left on Earth. She buries her before-the-end memories and focuses on survival. Then one night, she hears a voice on her radio and everything changes.

Nadia finds comfort in her new-found companions, but they also discover an unsettling thread tying them together: their shared birthdays. As they begin to unravel the mysteries surrounding their survival, they soon realize it was no accident, and that they could be in far more danger than they ever imagined…

Everything you love about the post-apocalyptic genre (science fiction, survival, adventure...) with a healthy dose of mystery and romance, too! Fans of The 5th Wave, The 100, or Maximum Ride will love We Survivors!

WE SURVIVORS Released on October 22nd, 2019.