Aliveby Chandler Baker (Website, Twitter)
Published by Disney-Hyperion on June 9, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Horror & Ghost Stories, Mystery and Suspense, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Thriller, Thrillers, Young Adult
Amazon • Book Depository • Goodreads
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Stella Cross's heart is poisoned.
After years on the transplant waiting list, she's running out of hope that she'll ever see her eighteenth birthday. Then, miraculously, Stella receives the transplant she needs to survive.
Determined to embrace everything she came so close to losing, Stella throws herself into her new life. But her recovery is marred by strange side effects: Nightmares. Hallucinations. A recurring pain that flares every day at the exact same moment. Then Stella meets Levi Zin, the new boy on everyone's radar at her Seattle prep school. Stella has never felt more drawn to anyone in her life, and soon she and Levi are inseparable.
Stella is convinced that Levi is her soul mate. Why else would she literally ache for him when they are apart?
After all, the heart never lies...does it?
I’ve always been interested in the stories about organ transplant patients who suddenly start displaying behaviors or preferences that they didn’t have before the surgery, and these are sometimes found to be the same as those of the organ donors. A fantastic podcast that I listen to weekly, Mysterious Universe, has covered the topic of cellular memory and organ donation several times. This is something that Stella might be dealing with after her heart transplant in Alive–one that she waited two years and came very close to death before she received–and once she’s home and recovering, she’s found that she can’t heal like she should. Stella has a constant pain in her chest that won’t go away with medicine, but she also starts to experience strange hallucinations and nightmares. But the weirdest thing is the soul-crushing pain that she experiences everyday at 5:08 in the afternoon.
Suddenly, the pain goes away…
But only when a mysterious new boy shows up at the prep school that Stella attends with her best friends Henry and Brynn. While Henry has liked Stella for a long time and had even asked Stella out right before her surgery (talk about bad timing), Stella never gave him an answer so they’re in this weird limbo relationship wise. The hot new guy Levi takes a liking to Stella pretty quickly, and she grows attached to him hard and fast. It’s so fast that I wouldn’t it call it insta-love, I’d call it insta-obsession since Stella can’t stand to be away from Levi, and he seems to only want to be with Stella.
Something is off about the new boy…
Stella and Levi’s relationship leaves Henry bitter but he keeps watching out for Stella, who still isn’t completely recovered from the surgery. But when Stella is with Levi, she doesn’t have any discomfort in her chest–and she doesn’t have the horrible pain attacks at 5:08. It’s like Levi is made to take her pain away. And there’s something not quite right about Levi. He won’t give too many details about himself, and he tries to keep Stella away from everyone–especially Henry.
Totally real characters with realistic families…
Stella’s family is present and front and center, with a mother who cares and worries a bit too much while her father tries to make up time at work that he missed when Stella was in the hospital. She has a one-year-old sister who she calls the replacement daughter, but it’s clear that Stella loves her little sister very much, even though she’s annoyed with her a lot. You also get a look at Henry’s father as well, so it’s nice to see deeper into the family dynamic.
Stella is headstrong and smart, but a bit wishy-washy when it comes to what she wants to do with her life–especially when it comes to her relationship with Henry. But she’s always been a great friend to Henry and Brynn, even when she was really sick–until Levi came into her life. Then she just tossed them to the side, only focusing on Levi as he took her pain away–and that was a big mistake.
Henry is smart, dependable, and true–and that’s what keeps him by Stella’s side even after she picks Levi. My heart hurt for Henry as Stella made some mistakes, but you just knew that Henry would be there to pick up the pieces. Brynn is the blunt best friend who tells it like it is no matter what, and she really comes to life in the scenes that she’s in.
I give Alive a five out of five. This supernatural thriller starts off as a contemporary novel sprinkled with strange happenings that could just be weird coincidences, but the suspense builds slowly until it reaches a fever pitch two-thirds of the way in. There were a bit of bloody hallucinations, and they really added to the horror of Stella’s confusion and condition. I really enjoyed the interactions between Stella, Henry, Brynn, and Levi since they were so realistic and typical of high schoolers. But what I really loved were the sprinklings of Seattle music from the early nineties in the text from Levi (Layne Staley is my absolute favorite), and I hope that it will introduce some in the younger generations to excellent music.