Liralen's Reviews > The Raft

The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
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's review
Apr 08, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: z-2012, fiction, reviewed, ya, travel, row-like-your-boat-is-on-fire

I picked this up from the free pile of ARCs at one of my local libraries. It promised to be a fun read -- contemporary, dramatic, maybe a bit harrowing, right?

Three things brought this down for me. First -- and this could easily have been fixed -- was the formatting. There are many, many one-sentence paragraphs in this book. I'm sure this was done intentionally (to bring more of a sense of urgency?), but to me it felt a) overdramatic and b) as though it was trying too hard. I'm pretty sure that if more of those sentences had been combined into longer paragraphs -- without even changing the sentences -- I would have been more satisfied with the book.

Second, this is ultimately a one-character book. We're entering spoiler territory here, but I suppose it's not really a surprise to say that (view spoiler). I was momentarily appeased by this revelation, actually -- I'd been wondering wtf was up with the extraordinarily weird conversations -- but it's not much of a consolation prize. If the book had to take that particular twist, I wish it had been done better -- give Robie a more active imagination with regard to the whole thing ((view spoiler)), I guess. As it is, there's very little dialogue with Max, so Robie is largely left to talk to herself. She's fifteen, and it shows -- her thought processes are often very immature; there's lots of whining and sarcasm.

Lastly...not that I desperately wanted a moral to the story or anything, but I don't think Robie did any growth throughout the story. Now, granted, she's in a boat and on an island for less than two weeks -- it's not as though she spends a year isolated from other humans and learning to fend for herself. But honestly...what we get is a portrait of a girl who isn't tremendously resourceful (yes, she manages to collect dozens of lighters to start a signal fire, but she's completely useless when it comes to little things like looking for food or water) and isn't that invested in her own survival. The bit where she can't bring herself to eat the dead baby seal, for example -- it's supposed to be touching, and I suppose it might be, but it would carry a lot more weight if that wasn't just one in a long line of things that she wasn't willing to do to increase her chances of survival.

In sum: Nice idea, but I wanted more.

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