” I’m being boiled alive.
Waves of searing heat roll over me. I turn my head and heave, spewing up hot water thick with aviation fuel. It burns my already scorched throat.
Something explodes on the other side of the plane and I try to duck but the life jacket keeps me vertical and I can’t dip my head below the surface. Another explosion, the biggest yet, ignites the fuel slick and a ring of flame encircles me, so close it blinds me. I dig my fingers into the life jacket and scream ‘Dad!’ again and again. There’s no reply, just the roar of the flames.”
Alone, which is suitable for readers aged 13 years and over, is a heart-stopping, heart-wrenching adventure story that will catapult readers from one incredible experience to the next. It’s an absolute classic tale of friendship between animals and humans too. Survival and the strength of human (and animal) spirit make Alone a very special book.
One moment Sam is travelling home from the holiday of a lifetime with his dad, and the next he’s alone in the jungle, plane crashed, with no sign of any other survivors. Understandably terrified and lacking confidence in his survival abilities, his thoughts initially focus on rescue, but before long it becomes clear that he will need to help himself if he is to survive. Full on and graphic in description, Alone feels a paper’s breadth away from real at times. I found myself reading through my fingers almost, caught between the dangers presented and the vulnerability of Sam and then later Galaxy, the otter cub he comes to know and protect as the jungle becomes his home.
Igniting a Love of Fiction
For young readers who only usually touch non-fiction books but are interested in survival, adventure and wildlife, this is the book to open their eyes to the possibilities of fiction. Parents, teachers, librarians: check it out. You all know how rare it is to find the right story for non-fiction fans, so you’ll also recognise the value of this. Animal enthusiasts, wannabe vets and future zoologists are going to love reading about Sam and Galaxy’s relationship, as well as the piranhas, monkeys and other amazing creatures they’ll get to meet. I can think of a couple of boys I know would fall in love with this book for just that reason. One is a little shy of the recommended age of thirteen, but here’s the thing. Although Alone is pretty intense at times and there’s some swearing included in the text, I’d have been quite happy giving it to my nephew to read when he was eleven or twelve because I know
- He could have handle it and
- I absolutely know he would have loved the book.
however, as a teacher I’d be really very wary about using it with classes under the age of thirteen as not everyone will have the stomach for it. After that though, I’d be waving it from the rooftops and encouraging readers to go for it, be scared, be exhilarated, start to explore what else is out there!
From Piranhas to Kippers
Finally, Alone offers me another wonderful opportunity: the perfect counter-move. For anyone who says to you that reading is boring, smile sweetly and pop a copy of this is their poor bookless hand, saying
” Oh really? I am sorry. Just go and have a look at this for me will you, then let me know if you still think the same.”
Although slapping them softly round the face with a wet kipper would be fun for a short time, this tactic will be 100% more effective, as no one could read Alone and retain this gloomy opinion. This action, by the way, will also score very highly on your Smug-o-meter, should you have had one installed.
With great big thanks to Andersen Press for sending me this copy of Alone.