You’re on a trip with your family, miles from anywhere. A shot rings out – and your whole life changes in an instant.
A woman is racing towards you, chased by three gunmen. Although you don’t know it, she harbours a deadly secret. She’s in terrible danger. And now you are too.
You’re running, terrified, desperate to find safety.
You know that the men hunting you have killed before.
And if they catch you, you’ll be next .
Stay Alive by Simon Kernick ; it does what it says on the tin. This book is all about survival, survival of the innocent and the not so innocent. The thing is no one is safe, you never quite know what’s going to happen, who’s going to be shot and who’s lucky enough to come through the ordeal unscathed. In truth, no one does whether it’s mental or physical scaring.
Told at breakneck speeds the book is a fluid and invigorating read and before you know it the body count has reached epic proportions and the final chapter read. A gripping story, Stay Alive keeps you guessing throughout and there are few quiet moments – where someone’s life isn’t in danger. There’s the obligatory red herring and twist at the end you’ll do well to guess in its entirety.
A solid read as I’ve already mentioned, the book came alive for me with the introduction of the main character – Scope – although at the time I had no idea he would play more than a bit part. He may not be everyone’s idea of a main protagonist but he was mine, there was something endearing about him, something that makes you champion his cause and like him. Introduced following an attack on his boss – a canoe hire company – Scope looks for revenge and boy does he get it! I knew within a matter of pages I’d like him and I wasn’t wrong. Scope is one of those people who’s carrying a lot of emotional baggage but a guy who, when the chips are down, you want on your side. I really enjoyed learning more about our hero and his backstory, his grief and what made him tick. He’s both believable and determined.
It’s not all about Scope far from it; numerous characters play a huge part in the book from detectives, antagonists and victims alike. Let’s not forget the wonderful Scottish countryside! As a canoeist myself I want to take a trip down the river – perhaps a little more sedately than in this book!
I also enjoyed how Kernick told the story, he managed to take it one way, throw in misdirection once or twice and keep you guessing throughout. There were a couple of events I’d figured out early on but this has absolutely no impact on the quality of writing and the plot itself. This is the third Kernick novel I’ve had the pleasure of reading and Siege still remains my favourite. One thing you can be sure of with this author, a bloody good read. Stay Alive is no exception.
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Century (30 Jan 2014)