If We Survive by Andrew Klavan

Two girls, two boys, and a youth pastor travel to a small, impoverished village in Central America to rebuild a school. The school is little more than concrete walls with a few chairs inside. When asked how one of the walls was reduced to rubble, the locals answer Los Volcanoes. The Americans are perplexed since the village is far from any volcanoes but they don’t give it another thought. Just as they are about to go home, they are abducted by (you guessed it) Los Volcanoes, a faction of the rebel groups that are currently warring with the country’s government. Their hope lies with the ex-marine pilot who seems to not care about their dangerous predicament.

You’re probably going to hear me say this a lot on here, but I could really see this becoming a movie. And an awesome one at that. If Timothy Oliphant were younger, he’d be great as the ex-marine. I was imagining more bulk though. I suppose I would have to settle for someone like Liam Hemsworth. But honestly, he’s not rugged enough and I don’t think he can pull off the humongous chip on the shoulder that the character has. Okay, sorry. Enough with the casting wishlist. If you can’t tell already, I thought the ex-marine character was awesome. And I love movies. Moving on…

I thought all of the characters were believable. You’ve got the narrator, a 16 year old boy named Will who is scared but rises to the occasion. An annoying know-it-all of a teenage boy named Jim who sympathizes with the rebels hatred for America but stupidly believes that he can talk them into releasing the group. A prissy teenage girl (I forgot her name already… Nicki?)who does nothing but cries and screams for most of the book. And the college girl, Meredith, who is eerily Zen about everything and seems to have balls of steel. I don’t mean to ruin the book for you, but I hardly feel like mentioning the youth pastor, Ron, because he is weak and a disposable character. No need to talk about the ex-marine, Dunn, again because I will just go on and on. But basically, the man has layers. Like an onion.

Klavan sure knows how to write action. While I can’t regurgitate any awesome prose, I can tell you I can still see all the action sequences in my head. It might be because I’ve watched a lot of movies with machines guns, gore, and jungles. But honestly, I think it’s because his storytelling is descriptive yet concise. The man really knows his way around the subject material. I also found Will’s voice to be believable as well. There’s nothing worse than a grown author trying to pull off a teenage voice and failing miserably.

I don’t know if I’ll read more of this author but I would probably read this book again if it crossed my path.

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