With this second book in the Stay Alive series, youngsters will see a formula emerge: A group of children in the care of mostly ineffective adults are in a remote location when disaster strikes.
To signal the severity, someone dies; another is critically injured; a third risks everything to get help. Meanwhile, the person who delivered them to the site conveniently dies before communicating the coordinates. In this case, the setting is Maine’s Hog Island Ledge, where six students and two teachers camp for five days. A bizarrely destructive earthquake (Maine is hardly a hotbed of tectonic activity) hits while the group is exploring the island’s Civil War–era fort, trapping them. As in series opener Crash (2014), the book is broken into three parts, each starting with a survival tip. Part 1 describes the cave-in; 2, the desperate dig-out; 3, survival without food, water or means to communicate. Readers may question why a quake causing significant damage on an island that is visible from the mainland and the site of one of the region’s most recognizable landmarks would not spark media coverage, parental concern and subsequent search. And as in the first book, there is no before or after for this crew, only the catastrophe and how they cope. Thus, although the pace is brisk, the characters are one-dimensional and hard to care about, especially the selfish Sandy, who never changes or gets her comeuppance.
For a more gripping and nuanced portrayal of individuals pushing and pulling together, try Fallout by Todd Strasser (2013). (Adventure. 8-12)