Saturday, September 19, 2009

Alive – Piers Paul Read ------ 4.5 STARS

NBC used to have this slogan, "If you haven't seen it, it's new to you." Well, my review today is sort of similar; if you haven't read it, it's new to you. Alive was published over 30 years ago and quickly became a bestseller and classic book of 'survival literature'. Like me, you may have heard of it simply because it was the book about people that turned to cannibalism to survive. While this was certainly part of it, there was also so much more to the story.

After reading both Into Thin Air and Touching The Void, and loving them both, I guess I can conclude that I really enjoy survival books. Those books, along with Alive, tell such tremendous stories about people fighting for their lives in the most extreme conditions. A quick synopsis of Alive: a plane heading from Uruguay to Chile for a rugby game with 45 people crashes in the high mountains of the Andes. The story is about what happens to those 45 people.

There's not a great amount of insight I can offer about this book besides saying it's an absolutely incredible story and was one of the few books in a long time that made me weep at the end (for some reason parent/children reunions get me). I wanted to give it 5 stars but I don't think it has as much depth as the other books that I have given my highest rating too; nonetheless, it's wonderful. The trials and tribulations of those men in the mountains is astounding and what is perhaps most incredible is how long they were forced to endure such difficult conditions.

What is most interesting is that the only thing I really knew about this book before reading it was that the taboo of cannibalism was broken while they were up there and, for some reason, I felt that that idea would dominate the story and disgust me; neither of those things occurred. In fact, their survival, their emotions, and their lives are the only things the reader really ends up caring about.

If you have not read this book before, please do so... it's impossible not to find their story and courage inspiring. In fact, you may actually find yourself reevaluating what's actually important in your life.

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