Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: The Raft

S.A. Bodeen
Contemporary Young Adult
231 pages
Feiwel & Friends
Available August 21st
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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 THOUGHTS
The Raft is a lightning-quick read, one of those stories that thrusts us into a character’s world for a few short moments before releasing us, and while a deep involvement with characters or story remains elusive, our attention is held throughout nonetheless. Extremely short chapters help give the story a more desperate feel, a quick two and three pages holding us riveted before we reach a stopping point, our fingers twitching with anticipation to see what lies beyond the next sheet of paper. Even when there are lulls in Robie’s day–times when she’s doing nothing but floating in a wide expanse of water in a tiny raft–there’s an addictive tension, the possibility of something big happening just around the bend teasing us as we will Robie to hold on a little bit longer.

One of the more interesting aspects of this story is Robie’s lack of survival skills. Many times with survival stories, the protagonist, upon finding themselves in a precarious situation, magically knows how to hunt or forage for non-poisonous edible foliage, thereby ensuring their survival. Robie is as clueless as most of us would be, a short guide saved from the wreckage of her plane giving her common sense tips such as “don’t drink saltwater” all she has to guide her as she faces miles of endless ocean. She does have solid avian knowledge from time spent with her parents and other researchers, but otherwise she’s completely vulnerable, setting our nerves all the more on edge as we can so easily see ourselves struggling just as she does.

While Robie is someone whose shoes we can seamlessly slide into, we never really get to know her as a person before we shut the back cover on our brief stint as her invisible companions. This is simply a story of her ordeal, and we never get the opportunity to dive deeper or claw our way through the layers that would make her a standout character in our minds. Her treatment of Max during their time in the raft is often frustrating, as she succeeds in catching food and collecting rainwater to drink yet never wakes him from his near-constant unconscious state to share her spoils. She appears callous and selfish, more interested in her own survival than in making sure they are both taken care of, and though we are provided an explanation for her seeming indifference by the end, her behavior while reading is a bit off-putting.

Overall, The Raft is fast-paced and easily read in a single sitting, our time with Robie not overly emotional or soul-scarring, allowing us to easily move on to the next story without much reflection on what we’ve read, but it is certainly successful in entertaining us for a short 230 pages.

Rating: 3.5/5

56 comments:

  1. Robie would frustrate me to no end. Is it bad that I actually hoped that Max would push her into the water. Whatever her grudge, wouldn't you think helping someone in a dire situation would trump that? Clearly, this book isn't for me. Thanks for the review, Jenny!

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    1. It's hard to explain Robie without explaining a rather bit twist, but I found her frustrating until the twist happened:)

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  2. Creepy, that is not something I would want to go through,,,

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    1. Ummmmm no. Me either! I'll keep both feet on land please:)

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  3. I've had my eye on this one since I first heard about it, I'm not really into survivalist books, but this one just seemed to grab my attention! It definitely sounds like an edge of your seat read, I really to pick up a type of book like this soon! Glad it kept you entertained! Lovely review :)

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    1. It was definitely entertaining and felt realistic since Robie didn't really know how to survive. She just sort of did what she could which is what most of us would do I expect.

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  4. This one sounds intense! I hadn't heard of it before your review. Robie doesn't really sound like my kind of person, I have to say!

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    1. She was a bit difficult for me while reading, but once I finished and understood certain things, her behavior made sense. It's hard to explain, but she bothered me while I was reading!

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  5. Whoaaaa the cover is creepy :S I like how it's a quick read- I'm seriously in need of some lightning-quick reads at the moment! Lovely review Jenny! I'm glad you were entertained for the most part :)

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    1. It's definitely fast, just over 200 pages:)

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  6. I really want to read this book, but after reading your review, I'm really not sure. Robie doesn't sound like a character that I would enjoy. In fact, I think she would really frustrate me, especially since she acts all selfish.
    Still, I'm happy that the book was entertaining although it's really too bad that you never got to see more beneath Robie's exterior. :/
    Thank you for the honest review, Jenny. :)

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    1. It was more plot driven than character driven, and I always gravitate toward character driven books. It was an interesting read and I enjoyed it, it just won't be one I'm dying to read again and again.

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  7. This sounds awesome. I've always loved the cover. I wonder if it's available on audio. *fingers crossed* Thanks for the fab review.

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    1. Ooooo I bet it would be great on audio!

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  8. I've been dying to read this book! Pity it didn't manage to leave an impact.

    She doesn't have survival skills ? That's so refreshing!
    Great review

    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

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    1. I thought so too! I liked that she was as clueless as I would be, it helped draw me in to the story.

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  9. This sounds a lot better than what I thought it was going to be about......(I still detest that cover) but I might give this a try...:)

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    1. If you're in the mood for a survival story, it's worth a read. There were a lot of things I liked and an interesting twist, but I just wasn't as connected as I usually like to be.

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  10. Amazing, lovely review Jenny!!!!!!! I probably won't read it because I don't like survival stories, excerpt for oblivion road by Alex McAulay (amazing, heart-breaking tale). But I'm glad this is a quick read full of tension. I probably wouldn't be able to stand Robie's selfishness, but i like how she is clueless on survival skills too. Fantastically written review!

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    1. Robie drove me crazy at time - like I said in some of the other comments, it all makes sense at the end, but by then it was a little late and my opinion of her had already formed even if it was no longer entirely accurate.

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  11. Fantastic review, Super Shark!

    I have this....thing... against short chapters, especially when I'm reading a physical book and can how short the chapters really are. They drive me a little mad. Am I alone in this?

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    1. *princess waves* Thank you, thank you. You don't get called a Super Shark for nothing you know? ;-)

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  12. Wonderful, informative review. I have this one from net galley and will be reading and reviewing it closer to the review date. It does sound really good. I'm excited for the twist. Story about survival are enticing to me. I really love The Hachet, which I read as a teenager. I'm always a bit shy of reading long books though, its very refreshing this one is less than 250 pages.

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    1. I actually really like it too! It fits the story perfectly and seems to convey to me what Robie must be feeling on the raft:)

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  13. Wow, I really want to check this one out now! I recently read Survive by Alex Morel and I was so disappointed and shocked by how the MC, as you mentioned, magically just knew how to survive, so this novel seems to be much more realistic and fascinating. I'll definitely be adding this to my TBR-Shelf for sure - fantastic review!(:

    ~Keertana
    Ivy Book Bindings

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    1. I don't like when the protagonists seem to suddenly call up survival knowledge and now how to set traps or eat bark or build a useful shelter. I wouldn't know how to do any of that if I got stranded! Robie knew a lot about birds and that helped her with some things, but otherwise she seemed to have pretty standard knowledge like any one of us might have:)

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  14. For such a short book, this does sound interesting enough. I'm certain I will have issues with Robie's character though. I will put this off for a bit longer but look forward to giving it a read when I get the chance. Thanks for the very helpful review, Jenny. :)

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    1. You're welcome Sam! I enjoyed this one overall, but it's not one I'll rush to read again:)

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  15. I am glad to hear this is a lightning quick read. I am so behind in my reviews these days and I have this one waiting for me. I thought Robie was on the raft alone but that might make for a boring story, so I guess it is good that she has someone along even if she treats him badly!

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    1. ME TOO! I love reading the books, but I tend to drag my feet writing the reviews. Reading is so much more fun than trying to formulate coherent thoughts:)

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  16. There were some parts of the books that made me cringe. I'm not so sure I be able to survive that kind of stuff. It was quick read for me. Thanks for the great review.

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    1. Definitely a quick read, I was in and out and then on to the next book!

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  17. This is the first review I've seen on this book so far. I'm happy to hear it was such a quick and intense read! It's too bad that you never really got to know Robie as a character beyond her immediate circumstances. This is something that will bother me a little, as well as her selfishness!

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    1. I just wanted to shake her at times for not helping Max as much as I would have liked. By the end I had a better understanding of why things happened the way they did, but I still struggled while it was happening:)

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  18. I like that she doesn't automatically know exactly what to do to survive. Puts more of an edge on her survival--that and the short chapters, which definitely put me on edge when I read stories like that (sneaky but effective little device). It's a really short book, isn't it, with just those 230 pages.

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    1. That was one of my favorite parts. All she had were some soggy skittles and she was as concerned about what to do for food and water as I would be:) Definitely a short book!

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  19. I don't know if there is an explanation worthy of that kind of behavior, but you have made me curious as to what that was! Evil! ;D I am really thinking how Max survived without water and being unconscious for a long time would worry me. Hm... that might bug me more...

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    1. I'm really bad at keeping bookish secrets, so if you want to know the twist I will gleefully tell you:)

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  20. Jenny, I'm not really a fan of survival stories so I'm probably going to skip this one even though it sounds kind of interesting.

    It does seem selfish that Robie doesn't share stuff with Max but I think in her situation most of us wouldn't. I know everyone likes to think that they would help others survive along with themselves but in reality I don't think that would be the case. Lol, but that's just my cynical view :)

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    1. You're probably right, if it come down to you and someone else, I think most people would choose themselves, but I still wanted her to wake him up:)

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  21. I'll be honest, survival stories always intrigue me to no end, thus The Raft definitely sounds like a book I can easily immerse myself in and be constantly entertained, based on your review which is awesome. :) I'm pleased you enjoyed this one, Jenny. I'll admit that I've overlooked it before, but your review certainly made me reconsider my decision. Excellent review; you are so thoughtful and eloquent!

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    1. Thanks so much Leanne! I'm so glad the review was helpful to you:) Despite not falling in love with the characters, it was still an entertaining read, and sometimes that's more than enough:)

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  22. This reminds me of the nonfiction story Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, and that was certainly harrowing. Louie Zamperini survived 40+ days afloat in the Pacific Ocean after his plane was shot down in WWII! I'm intrigued by the twist you referred to in your response to a comment. I enjoyed your balanced review.

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    1. I can't even imagine that. It's probably one of my worst fears - to be stuck in the middle of the ocean with nothing but saltwater and sharks surrounding me. *dies*

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  23. I probably shouldn't have read your review as I'm set to read this one next, but it's Shark Week and I had read there would be sharks and I was curious.... So, she doesn't get eaten by sharks. That's good. After yesterday's marathon, not sure I could read about that!
    Great review! I'm sensing a Hatchett kind of book. Though he knows or learns how to fend for himself. Glad to know it's engaging.

    Heather

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  24. I can't imagine being in such a situation! How frightening. I would find it grating that Robie thinks more of herself than helping her raft-mate who's obviously fairing badly. I would hope that I would be different in the situation but you really don't honestly know until your in it. Great review Jenny. :)

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  25. It sounds like Robie would drive me nuts! I like that its fast, short chapters can work really well at keeping me in the story. I think this book would be hard for me just cause its a realistic type survival story. What a nightmare!

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  26. Glad that Robie isn't a survival expert - It always bothers me when MC's do mysteriously have survival knowledge, despite having no good reason for knowing any of it. Although, Robie does sound a bit frustrating and difficult to like....

    Regardless, very nice review! Sounds like a gripping story.

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  27. I haven't heard of this one before but I really like reading books that are fast-paced!!! The cover is a bit creepy and I don't think Robie is my kind of character. But oh well! Glad to hear you thought it was entertaining Jenny! If I'm ever looking for a short, quick read I will definitely consider The Raft.

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  28. So I have a confession and it's that I have this ARC and I haven't read it yet, but I did read the end. I NEVER do that, so I have no idea why I did it here. Soooo even though I read the ending without context I think I basically know the twist... I'll probably read this within my next few books, and I think it will be interesting to read it and look for clues.

    ALSO I have to point this out because I saw someone else point it out. THAT COVER!! Totally bleak/kind of eerie to begin with, right? But then LOOK AT THE HAND. The way it's positioned? It really can't belong to her. ... *shivers*

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  29. Oh, excellent - I've been looking forward to reading some reviews about this one because I LOVE survivor stories! (btw, why is it we find stories like this so addicting in their tension when in real life, the entire situation would not be even remotely captivating or addictive, but scary as hell?!). This sounds like it would be a great, quick read that could easily be squeezed into my reading schedule - too bad about the MC though.

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  30. I think in any kind of extreme survival situation, most people would likely be out to save themselves. I think it's the instincts kicking in. But when your own companion is suffering that close to you... yeah, that's kind of coldhearted, dude! LOL

    I dont think I could like Robie, therefore, I can't muster up the interest to read this one, but I did just finish On the Island and WOW!!! Even thought those survivor miraculously obtained some much needed essentials, I was happy for them.

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  31. Oh well that is kind of a downer, that she seems to be such a snotface. Sorry lol. It would ruin the story for me if I just wanted to slap the character. Or in this case throw her overboard. KIDDING :P I love survival stories and I'm still hoping to pick this one up.

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  32. The cover of this book is very intriguing and I like that you can read it in a short period of time. I do like a good survival story so I will probably pick this up! ~Jess

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  33. This one was crazy. I liked it but I tend to agree with your thoughts! It kept me on the edge of my seat while I flew through it.

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