Looking for a gripping book to read? Check out this review of The Only Survivors by Megan Miranda, a suspenseful and thought-provoking novel that will keep you on your toes.
⚠️This review may contain spoilers.
The Only Survivors Summary
Megan Miranda’s book, The Only Survivors, narrates the story of seven individuals who survived a terrible accident. The protagonist, Cassidy Bent, and her classmates were returning from a school trip when their vans collided, causing them to fall into a ravine and into the Tennessee River. As they gather for their yearly reunion, the group’s already tenuous bond is further strained by the suicide of another member, reducing their number from nine to seven. The group is on the verge of unraveling as each survivor harbors their buried secrets, waiting to be unearthed.
The Only Survivors Review
In her book, The Only Survivor, Ms. Miranda cleverly organizes the daily events of the reunion while incorporating flashbacks to provide readers with insight into the backstory of the characters’ experience of that fateful night.
Each chapter begins with a concise statement that sets the tone for the following scenes. Some of which may be lengthy but serve to propel the story forward.
The book’s central question – what happened that night – is gradually revealed through each scene, heightening the suspense and keeping readers engaged. Ms. Miranda’s skillful parsing of information entices readers to continue delving into the story.
Cassidy Bent, the protagonist feels inferior. Often she thinks of herself invisible to those closest to her especially her family and teachers. The story takes us through her past and present introspections, revealing the burden of her secrets. This eventually leads to sudden changes in her decisions.
Interestingly, the character Ian Tayler, only mentioned in past memories, plays a significant role in supporting Cassidy and making her feel seen. Despite not being active in the present, Ian plays a vital part in the conundrum faced by his friends.
Ms. Miranda introduces a cunning antagonist lurking in the darkness, building suspense and elevating the stakes among the characters. While seeking justice, the villain also has a vested interest in personal gain, adding a layer of complexity to their personality. The overarching plot of the story ties back to the villain’s motives once uncovered.
The Plot Twists & Red Herrings
The Only Survivors packs a punch with unexpected turns revealed through the group’s perspectives. Each character’s memory presents a twist that perplexes readers and questions what happened.
Woven seamlessly into the story are the red herrings with plausible explanations given by each character. This creates a partial resolution for readers seeking to uncover the truth behind that fateful night. With its creative storytelling and clever twists, The Only Survivors will keep readers on edge.
“Who do you save in the moment, when you have the chance? The answer was simple, and obvious, and always, always the same: whoever you can.” – Cassidy
The Cliffhanger and Climax
The Only Survivors ends on a suspenseful note, where Cassidy finally discovers the identity of the person causing trouble for the group. It turns out that the person had used Cassidy’s weaknesses and insecurities to gain her trust. The story takes the reader on a journey as the protagonist approaches the climax, revealing the complete picture.
Ms. Miranda, too, shares Cassidy’s fears as she confronts the situation with the group, and she has the most to hide.
The reader understands what happened that night as the missing pieces fall into place. The story leaves no questions unanswered, and the reader gets a satisfying conclusion to the events that led up to the accident.
Ms. Miranda’s The Only Survivors is more than just a tale of suspense and mystery. It delves into the complex emotion of guilt and what triggers it. The story portrays guilt as a pervasive force that affects everyone involved.
The survivors feel guilty for abandoning the wounded, withholding information about the incident, failing to arrive on time, and even for being responsible for the tragedy. Despite these feelings of guilt, they continue to gather every year, bound together by this shared burden.
Ms. Miranda’s work is a poignant reminder of the power of guilt and how it can shape our actions and relationships.
The book’s characters were outstanding, with even a glimpse into their minds adding a layer of complexity to the large ensemble. Cassidy, the focal point, had a particularly explosive secret. The author skillfully ramped up the tension, keeping me on the edge of my seat and satisfying my curiosity. The well-balanced pacing offered moments of fast-paced action and slower interludes to catch my breath.
Overall, The Only Survivors is a thought-provoking and entertaining read that prompts reflection on the weight of our personal guilt. It also poses the question: who will you choose to save when given a chance?
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