This action-packed, blood-soaked, single-minded adventure is a common tale of good vs. evil filled with characters who all believe that they are on the side of “good.” The Mayor and his Educators fight to maintain control over The City by restricting the actions and knowledge of their students. Former students and their leader, Zyid, make up a group known as Truants to battle the Educators for their physical, emotional, and academic freedom. And then there is Umasi, one of the Mayor’s sons, who lives in isolation as a pacifist – sympathetic to the plight of the students, but refusing to be party to the violence on either side. When Tack’s little sister becomes an innocent victim at the hands of a Truant, he vows to enact revenge. Ironically, with Umasi as a mentor, he has learned skills that make him one of the top members of the Truancy, allowing him to fit in easily among the other runaway students, and he uses the advantage to build trust with Zyid. Complications mount as Tack begins to recognize his loyalty to the Truancy, and how that interferes with his plans to avenge his sister’s death. He must come to his own conclusions . . . but at the risk of how many lives?
The book could have benefited from a thorough editing job. The amount of adjectives in every sentence could rival a thesaurus, and often the characters seem wooden and one-dimensional. However, the fast pace that carries along the action, adventure, and mystery are likely to keep the reader’s attention and interest. Those who are reading more for the excitement of the story will be enthralled, as long as they aren’t too critical of the dialogue.
Appropriate for older middle school and early high school, and recommended to boys and girls alike. Teen readers will love that this book was written a high school student from NYC.
Call number: YA FUKUI (Teen Room)
Reviewed by kate the librarian
I Am Still Alive by Kate Marshall
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