Let me start out by saying that I have read two other books by S.A. Bodeen (THE COMPOUND – 5 Glasses and THE GARDENER – 4 Glasses) and really enjoyed them. Both of them were Sci-Fi so I was a little surprised when I saw THE RAFT was written by her as well. Obviously, you can tell by the ratings that I liked her Sci-Fi much better.
I do want to give S.A. Bodeen a big high five for writing STAND ALONE novels! Those are so hard to come by in today’s trilogies and series.
Robie is staying in Honolulu with her Aunt for a visit just to get away from the isolation of Midway Atoll where she and her parents live. As the daughter of researchers, she is forced to live in the seclusion of the islands and deal with homeschooling, poor Internet, and zero cell phone service. Staying with her Aunt means eating fast food, catching up on movies and TV shows, and shopping. When her Aunt is called away on business, Robie convinces her to allow her to stay alone for the week she has left in her visit. But, being on her own isn’t as fun as she thought it would be. After a particularly bad scare, Robie decides to pack up and catch the next cargo plane home.
Traveling by cargo plane isn’t anything new for Robie. She has done it often and is on a first name basis with the pilot. When she arrives at the airport things are in chaos. The plane is going to be packed, but at least she’ll be home after a five or six hour flight. This flight isn’t normal though. A bad storm blows in faster than planned and one of the plane’s engines stops. Before Robie realizes what is happening, Max, a co-pilot she doesn’t know, is shoving an inflatable raft out the emergency exit and throwing her out after it.
So begins the worst experience of Robie’s life. As if things aren’t bad enough, she soon realizes that in all the hubbub at the airport, her name was left off of the manifest. No one knows she was on the plane. Will anyone even come looking for her?
THE RAFT is a very fast read at only 231 pages. I got through it in one sitting. There were a couple of things I didn’t like about the story though:
1) In the beginning when Robie was talking about catching up on DVDs she watched Lost, which I felt was kind of a heavy handed way of foreshadowing. I mean, really, we read the synopsis of the book and already know the plane is going to crash. It just irritated me that Robie worried about a plane crash once she got strapped into her seat just because she watched Lost.
2) At times the author was too preachy about the environmental issues of the ocean. There was a lot of talk about debris, toxic fish, and a baby seal got caught in some netting.
3) There were a couple of times when food was in her grasp, but she didn’t eat it because she just couldn’t do that to an animal (in one case even after the animal was already dead). I mean, come on…..it has been over a week and you haven’t eaten anything but a couple of Skittles and a few finger fulls of fish and you don’t take the opportunity to eat when it is right there in front of you?
4) The ending. Is S.A. Bodeen trying to work in a little magical realism or was Robie’s eyes just playing tricks on her? I really hope some of you comment on this point and let me know what you think.