As a long time fan of Andrew Klavan's YA offerings I snapped at the chance to read If We Survive, a jungle survival tale with a coming of age twist. The book definitely lived up to it's adventurous and leafy cover and left me with a fingering of something deeper behind.
High schooler Will Peterson and three friends journeyed to Central America to help rebuild a school. In a poor, secluded mountain village, they won the hearts of the local people with their energy and kindness.
But in one sudden moment, everything went horribly wrong. A revolution swept the country. Now, guns and terror are everywhere—and Americans are being targeted as the first to die.
Will and his friends have got to get out fast. But streets full of killers . . . hills patrolled by armies . . . and a jungle rife with danger stand between them and the border. Their one hope of escape lies with a veteran warrior who has lost his faith and may betray them at any moment. Their one dream is to reach freedom and safety and home.
Like normal, Klavan's main character is a straight laced high-school guy: Will Peterson. Unlike his previous books, Will is on a missions trip to Central America with the goal of rebuilding a school. Unfortunately, their trip back to the states is stopped by revolutionaries and soon Will's fight to live and all it's adventures and emotional struggles become ours.
As always, Klavan's point of view work and internal monologue are tight and enjoyable and I found myself readily caring about Will and his predicaments.
Far from being a book solely devoted by action and gunfights, ideas and worldviews about government, life, and heroism are skillfully woven into the story. I was also impressed by Klavan's treatment of the relationship between Meredith and Will; or it could be worded as the lack of relationship. The believability was perfect and really added to the depth of our protagonist.
The down to earth faith and worldview of Will juxtaposed with Jim Nolan and his fiery opinions on how to right the world of South America gave the story a backboard to kick around political worldviews, while the jungle trials also were a showcase for Will's faith.
All in all: It's not on my book of the year list but it's a great addition to any YA adventure bookshelf.