Klavan, Andrew. If We Survive
6 November 2012, Thomas Nelson
Will is in a small, South American country helping to rebuild a school through a combined school/church group. Just as he and his coworkers are getting ready to leave, Mendoza, head of the local rebel group, bursts into the cantina where the group has met, and shoots the owner dead. Pastor Ron advises praying, Palmer (a former Marine and local pilot) seems to be about to abandon the group, Nikki screams annoyingly, Jim thinks that Mendoza is in the right, and Meredith is oddly quiet and controlled. When Pastor Ron is taken off and killed, the group realizes they have to escape. Palmer does first, and, surprisingly, comes back with a van to rescue the others. They can only take the van so far, and when they realize that Palmer's plane has been destroyed, they take to the woods and attempt to reach the border to escape. This isn't easy, and it's necessary to do things to survive that Will would not normally consider. However, his faith and his desire to see his parents again keep him strong, and he tries to learn from the members of his group how to survive in tense situations.
Strengths: Klavan's The Last Thing I Remember (Homelanders) series is very popular in my library, and for good reason. There is nonstop action, lots of suspense, and a teenage boy who is determined to do what's right. I appreciated that Will was excited at first, but once he kills a man, he feels remorse.
Weaknesses: Thomas Nelson is a religiously affiliated publisher, and sometimes this makes parts of their books a bit of a slog. Doesn't matter what a student's religion is-- when an action book stops to philosophize about religion, it makes the book less popular. To Klavan's credit, he has a much lighter philosophic touch with this than he did in the Homelanders series, which did get rather bogged down with agenda. Will's religion and actions related to it are much more organic in this book.