January 3, 2016

Book Battle | Alive by Scott Sigler vs. Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

Welcome to Book Battles, a feature here at Crazy for YA where I put two books in the battle ring and have them fight it out to see which one is better.

Today's fight is between Alive by Scott Sigler and Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant. 

Alive is a science fiction thriller about a girl who wakes up in a coffin without a clue where or who she is. 

Messenger of Fear is a thriller that leans more on the urban fantasy side of the spectrum about a girl names Mara and her exploits, or more like terrors, with her new nightmare, the Messenger of Fear. 

Since both of these novels are thrillers, it is best if I do not reveal a lot about the nature of the plot. I want to keep the mystery and suspense intact.


Alive- From the moment Em woke up in the darkness to the final page of the book I was on the edge of my seat. I did not want to put the book down in case I would miss something. There are were no awkward lulls in action or lapses in intrigue. The whole book was the longest roller-coaster ride of my life. The plot had me asking ALL OF THE QUESTIONS, wondering, guessing, and even worrying about the characters.

Messenger of Fear- The suspense in Messenger of Fear is more subtle than in Alive. The fear and the thrill was gently laced into the background of the novel. Messenger of Fear leans more to the urban fantasy side of things than the thriller, but there were certainly some, lets go with disturbing, parts that got my heart racing.

Both novels left mystery at the end to set up for the next installment of the series. I will definitely pick up the sequels to both Alive and Messenger of Fear.

In a close match, Alive wins in Suspense.

Surprise Factor

Alive- I was much more impressed and honestly surprised at the big reveal in Alive than in Messenger of Fear. There were certainly clues that hinted at it, but I did not put two and two together. Personally, I love being surprised buy the big reveals in thrillers. Alive had the perfect balance between suspense, confusion, and information that kept me on the edge of my seat, but not frustrated. There were also little, mini reveals throughout the story that kept my mystery craving satisfied. 

Messenger of Fear- I was not really surprised by the "big reveal" at the end of Messenger of Fear. Not to toot my own horn, but I had already figured it out before the end. Now, that does not mean that it was not good, or predictable. Some surprises are more surprising for some people. I still enjoyed the reveal, since the emotions were still there and the characters' reactions were spot on. 

Alive wins in Surprise Factor.


Alive- There is a rather large cast of characters in Alive, but somehow I felt as if I got to know all of them. The characterization was succinct, but still descriptive. It snuck up on me at times, like showing me more about the characters when I least expected it. I love when authors are able to describe the characters without, you know, actually describing them. (I think that makes sense, right?)

Messenger of Fear- The characterization in Messenger of Fear was not as subtle, but just as powerful. There was a smaller cast of characters and all of them were highlighted, but in a more blunt and obvious way. Sometimes I felt as if the author was explaining the characters to me, which is not something that I like. I want to define the characters for myself and figure out who they are to me, not just be handed their personalities on a silver platter.

Both novels have strong casts of characters, but Alive (slightly) wins in Characters.


Alive- Even though the true setting of Alive is not revealed until the last third of the story, the descriptions and the uniqueness of the setting was phenomenal. I felt as if I could picture every little detail about the atmosphere of the story. The setting also did wonders to enhance the suspense and thrill factors of the novel.  
Messenger of Fear- There is not one set location used in the novel, and I kind of felt thrown around while the different settings were introduced. Almost all of the settings were beautifully described, but none of them were particularly unique. The opening scene is the one exception. The description of the opening was beautifully creepy, but sadly that was not true for all of the settings throughout the novel.

Alive wins in Setting.


Alive- To me, there was nothing extraordinary about the writing style displayed in Alive. The novel is certainly more based on the action, suspense, and the characters while the style was kind of swept under the rug. One of the things that I wished from this book was a more unique writing style. Sure, there were a few gems hidden throughout the story, but the writing was nothing compared to the beauty found in Messenger of Fear.

Messenger of Fear- The writing style was stunning in Messenger of Fear. What it lacked in setting and plot, it made up for with the sheer beauty, rawness, and sometimes even terror, displayed in the writing style. I opened the books and immediately noticed the liberal, but not overdone, use of metaphors and descriptions for the characters and the setting. The writing style always accomplished what it set out to do. For example, some scenes were obviously meant to creep out the reader, and the writing style successfully made me feel as if I was in a horror movie. The imagery was so real, and yet otherworldly, and just AMAZING! 

Messenger of Fear undoubtedly wins in Writing.


Alive had a greater package deal than Messenger of Fear. Alive's big, yet strong and complex, cast of characters outperformed Messenger of Fear's smaller and less detailed cast. Alive's setting was more unique and interesting, while Messenger of Fear's was hard to keep up with and not the most original. Alive's suspense caused my heart to pound, while Messenger of Fear's was more subtle. 

Overall, Alive by Scott Sigler wins this book battle.

Have you read either of these books? Which one do you think should have won? What is your favorite YA thriller?

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