The Raft by S.A. Bodeen Review

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Title: The Raft
Author: S.A. Bodeen
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publish Date: August 21, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 231
Source: Publisher

Robie is an experienced traveler. She’s taken the flight from Honolulu to the Midway Atoll, a group of Pacific islands where her parents live, many times. When she has to get to Midway in a hurry after a visit with her aunt in Hawaii, she gets on the next cargo flight at the last minute. She knows the pilot, but on this flight, there’s a new co-pilot named Max. All systems are go until a storm hits during the flight. The only passenger, Robie doesn’t panic until the engine suddenly cuts out and Max shouts at her to put on a life jacket. They are over miles of Pacific Ocean. She sees Max struggle with a raft.

And then...she’s in the water. Fighting for her life. Max pulls her onto the raft, and that’s when the real terror begins. They have no water. Their only food is a bag of Skittles. There are sharks. There is an island. But there’s no sign of help on the way.
It's a normal day for Robie. She knows traveling, she knows flying and nothing seems to be out of the ordinary on the day's flight except for the new co-pilot, whom she's never seen before. But things suddenly go from routine, to bad, to deadly in a matter of minutes when turbulence becomes severe and the plane starts to crash. Max manages to get Robie out and follow after her, but they're far from safe as the plane sinks beneath the dark, stormy water. With Max gravely injured and Robie struggling to hang on, how long can the two possibly survive at sea?

The Raft is unlike any book I've ever read before, and that's a testament in and of itself because, let's be real here, the YA genre is crowded. S.A. Bodeen truly makes a name for herself with this novel, giving us a powerful character who is easy to relate to, a gripping and dramatic plot and edge-of-your-seat action throughout. With powerful prose, The Raft is a swift novel, sweeping you into its dramatic and painful embrace in a way that almost makes you feel that you're stranded with Robie on that raft in the middle of the open sea where the struggle to survive will twist and turn you in its deadly embrace.

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, but if a book actually manages to surprise me these days - in a good way - it's as good as solid gold to me. The Raft did that and so much more. There are so many books out there that are swimming with characters, and illustrious details, and locations and more, but The Raft sets itself apart from the masses simply by being so amazingly sparse. We're literally given a main character, a secondary character who lapses in and out of consciousness, leaving the Robie to her own devices and a singular location - the raft upon which these two survivors are struggling to live. If I'd known that going in, I would have been highly dubious about how there could possibly have been enough action to fill a novel of this size. However, because of the unique setup, we're given an insider's look at this teenage girl's immediate need for growth, and yes, she grows up. She gradually and believably transforms into a powerful character in her own right, and dang it - that girl is strong to make it through these harrowing events. Max, too, is a powerful character that is interjected throughout, but boy does this man of secrets. His character was one of the best secondary characters I've read in a very long time. I kid you not when I say that The Raft had me reeling and begging for the end. It wasn't that I wanted the book to be over, but rather I was so invested in the story that I, too, felt as though I was being rescued. 

The Raft was, in my humble opinion, incredible. Plot twists abound and the utter originality in setup had me begging for more. It's one of those books that I'm not going to forget for a very long time. I give it a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy action, adventure, survival and contemporary fiction stories.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. Wow The Raft sounds amazing, that I can't believe that I've put if off for so long. I agree that it takes a lot these days to keep me utterly riveted in a read, so that fact that this kept you on your toes with its endless surprises will certainly help it push it up my tbr pile. Also I adore books where the secondary characters play a strong role. I think I will have to get to The Raft much more sooner now. Another great review Melissa! :)

  2. This was honestly one of the absolute best books that I've read in a very long time. It was absolutely beautiful, and it was full of twists and turns! I highly recommend it! You'll love it :)

  3. Ooh. I love survival stories so much and this sounds breathtaking. I always appreciate a good, strong story and it sounds like this is it, yeah? I've added it to my to-read -- wouldn't have even heard of it if it weren't for you. Thanks!

  4. I'll take it! I'm sold. I am going to buy this now.

  5. This definitely is one heck of a survival story. I didn't expect it to be nearly as good as it was!

  6. Survival stories are always interesting, and I love that you mentioned that this novel only gives us the sparsest of elements. It sounds like it would be incredibly interesting to see what the author has in store for us, and how she manages to tell a lengthy story with such few elements to it!

  7. This is such a beautiful book, Alexa. I think you'd really like has so many twists and turns despite having the sparsest of elements!

  8. First, if the plane I was on crashed in the middle of the ocean, I would probably die. No joke. I'm deathly scared of deep bodies of water (always have been) and deep bodies of water that have sharks (thanks Jaws). I can't even look at oceans in a movie (I always cover my eyes in Titanic when it deals with ocean scenes).

    Second, I'm the weirdo who loves survival stories, especially dealing with islands and oceans and all. This one sounds great and I'll be sure to check it out!


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