Title: Alive by Chandler Baker
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Supernatural, Horror
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher
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?
Fans of horror stories are absolutely going to love Alive by Chandler Baker. This young adult novel starring seventeen year old Stella Cross is a deliciously eerie and spooky thriller with supernatural elements. It is an utterly outstanding debut novel that I recommend to readers of all ages.
Stella’s two year wait for a new heart has finally ended and she has successfully undergone transplant surgery. Although fully recovered from the surgery, she is plagued by a searing pain in her chest that occurs every day at the same time, but all of her tests have come back normal. Ready to get back to regular life, Stella returns to school where she begins dating new student, Levi Zin. Much to her surprise, when she is with Levi, the horrendous pain in her chest disappears. However, her friends’ begin to grow concerned about her when she begins acting out of character, but it is their observations about Levi’s behavior that worry her. It is not until her bizarre hallucinations start coming true that Stella becomes truly frightened. She then turns to her good friend, Henry, and they uncover shocking information about Levi.
Stella handles most of the changes in her life with grace but once she meets Levi, she slowly becomes obsessed with him. In the beginning, she wants to spend time with him because of their strong attraction but then she realizes when they are together, she is blissfully pain free. Stella does not question this strange phenomena too deeply especially since Levi opens her up to new and exciting experiences. While she feels twinges of guilt over how badly she is treating her friends, she becomes deliberately hurtful when they try to talk to her about Levi. It is not until she attends a party with Levi that Stella realizes that her friends have been right all along and at long last, she delves into Levi’s past.
Stella has an amazing set of loyal friends who easily forgive her despite how badly she treats them. Brynn is no nonsense and honest to a fault. Henry is the only guy in the mix and while their feelings for one another run a little deeper than friendship, the timing has never been right for their relationship to turn romantic. They share a love of all things paranormal and Henry is the logical choice for her to turn to when she needs help getting to the bottom of the mystery surrounding Levi.
The supernatural/paranormal aspect of Alive is extremely well written. Stella’s bizarre experiences are initially easy to discount because the visions are so fleeting. Her hallucinations become more vivid and frightening but they are still infrequent enough that she continues to ignore them. It is not until her visions start coming true and she is plagued with nightmares that Stella is forced to confront her growing fear that an otherworldly influence might be responsible for what is happening to her. After her investigation hits a dead end, she turns to Henry for help and together, they learn the horrifying truth about Levi and her connection to him.
Alive by Chandler Baker is a riveting young adult novel with a unique and well-written storyline. The characters are multi-faceted and superbly developed. The supernatural element is brilliantly executed and fans of the genre are going to love how this aspect of the plot plays out. An positively marvelous debut that I highly recommend to anyone who loves reading horror stories.