Saturday, August 25, 2012

Adrift at Sea

The Raft
I remember reading Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor in junior high and being terrified. I don't want to bob around at sea with no idea what was going to happen to me, slowly going mad by dehydration. My husband is terrified of the ocean, and while I mock him for it endlessly, I can see where his fear comes from, especially after reading The Raft by S.A. Bodeen.

Robie lives on the Midway Atoll with her biologist parents. People think it is cool to live on an atoll, but when you are the only teenager, there is rarely an internet connection, and the only food and movies you have are the ones you schlepped over on a limited space cargo plane, you lose sight of the "coolness" quickly. So after sometime in Hawaii, she makes an impromptu decision to return home ahead of schedule. She secures a space on a cargo plane with a pilot she knows and trusts and his new copilot, Max. All is going well until an unexpected storm sends the plane hurtling into the ocean.

While Max manages to throw her out of the plan and they get into the raft, all is not well and safe. bobbing around the ocean in a raft is the furthest thing from Robie's bucket list, and now, without out food or fresh water, surviving the plane crash may have been a wasted effort. Max won't even respond to her most of the time, but his stories are comforting at least. Unfortunately, they can't survive on comfort, and as the days roll on, their chances of making it off the raft in one piece become smaller, especially when sharks are beneath them, fishing is pretty much impossible, and there is no rain in sight.  Will Robie live to see civilization, or will she succumb to the sea?

Here is the thing about S.A. Bodeen. She knows how to throw a twist you didn't see coming. In The Compound, she threw a twist that changed the ENTIRE intent of the book and had my head spinning. In this book, the twist isn't nearly as large, but it is pretty significant. Enough so to make you stop and say, "Hey! You got me!" That makes for a fun and entertaining book. Robie is an intereting character because her little acts of rebellion, like piercing her nose, pale in comparison to her will to survive. I don't think I could have done what she did to stay alive. You will like Robie from the start of the book and will find yourself cheering for her straight through to the last page.

Since this is a short book and is quite interesting, I will most likely keep it on my shelf for kids who struggle to get something to hold their attention. The monkey wrench in the middle will hold them through and the idea of surviving is great material for discussions. I didn't think the story was mind-blowing, but it was good entertainment and will appeal to a good deal of my students. The writing is neither simplistic nor intricate, so this is a perfect book for your average young adult reader. Still, I am impressed how Bodeen can get me every time!

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