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Alive is a 2015 science fiction/mystery/drama novel by Scott Sigler. It's first person from start to finish, beginning with our protagonist waking up in a confined space and having to fight and scrape her way out. Escaping what appears to be a coffin in some dusty crypt, she discovers and frees five others from similar confinement. Conversing, they discover several things: none of them can remember their names though each of them has a first initial and last name on their coffin, they each believe today to be their twelfth birthday, and they are all in the bodies of very attractive young adults. There are also several coffins with child sized skeletons in them. Our point of view, M Savage, leaves with the small party to discover more skeletons (this time adult sized) of people who obviously died violently. Arming themselves with a few discarded melee weapons they proceed to explore a seemingly endless underground space. It's not long before conflict erupts to lethal effect, they meet another party, and they have to contend with the concern that monsters are real.

Through all of this M learns who she and the others are. Each of them has specific skills and knowledge. Some seem to understand the technology around them. Some seem unusually alert and coordinated, ready to fight, kill, or die. Some have other skills. What does M have? Not smarts or strength or even charm exactly. She has an overwhelming sense of responsibility. She will lead these people to safety. Her specifically. Pragmatism, ruthlessness, whatever it takes she'll hang on to leadership because if she lets this group of fully grown children do what they want they're going to get themselves killed. Underneath the rationalization and post-hoc justifications is the very real concern that she's right. These are psychological preteens with poor impulse control, conflicting personalities, and no food or water. Hour to hour survival could be dependent on politicking, resource management, and dumb luck with little room for error. Even as they find a bit of respite the questions remain: where are they? Who are they? What could possibly lead to this situation?

One review described this book as "a cross between Lord of the Flies and The Maze Runner" and while I haven't read The Maze Runner I got Lord of the Flies vibes throughout. Except that Lord of the Flies is a slow descent into savagery. Alive starts Savage and begins the narrative equivalent of free climbing to something sustainable. I would heavily recommend this book but I may be biased. It features several things that I really like, first person perspective, dubiously reliable narration, mystery, weird sci-fi concepts. I think the biggest reason I didn't love this to death was that I saw most of the twists coming so I could never fully inhabit the point of view without my own commentary seeping in and that's on me. If you want to listen to it it's available for free here.

IRON NODER: WE'LL RUST WHEN WE'RE DEAD