The opening of The Lifeboat is definitely an attention-grabber. The prologue is set in the future with Grace Winter alive and somewhat safe. Although the reader knows she survived the harrowing events on the lifeboat, it's also very apparent that something serious went down on that boat. Why? Because she, and some other folks, are on trial for what happened in the boat. Now, you have to read the whole book to know what happened on Lifeboat 14.
More than anything, The Lifeboat is about what people become when their survival is on the line. Just like in a dystopia, hardships bring out both the best and worst in people. Some will sacrifice themselves to save others; some destroy others to save themselves, perhaps even when it's unnecessary.
All of the people on the lifeboat are victims of circumstance. They were on a ship and that ship sunk, leaving them stranded with limited resources on an overcrowded lifeboat, all alone and surrounded by people they don't know or trust. What is it acceptable to do to ensure one's survival in such a circumstance? Do crimes committed in the name of the survival of the group count when back in the real world?
For me, The Lifeboat was a good, but not an outstanding read, largely because I could not connect to Grace's character. She is indecisive and reliant upon the strength of men. However, the ethical questions were certainly fascinating.