A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
It's possible to work as a team even when you really really disagree.
Positive Role Models
Characters in the novel evolve (and not always in good ways) as the story unfolds. As their secrets are revealed, characters a reader might initially have seen in a positive light often show a darker side. Despite being almost paralyzed by fear and paranoia, the six manage (most of the time) to put their differences aside and work together to try to find a way to safety.
Reyna is Mexican American and Simon Yoo is presumed biracial, White and Asian American. He talks about his "white uncle" and later identifies him as his mother's brother.
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Violence & Scariness
Violence and the threat of violence is a constant in this story. The friends are terrorized by the shooter and frightened the next bullet he shoots into the RV might be the one that kills them. Red is haunted by the execution-style murder of her mother, a police captain, and agonizes over what her last moments must have been like. There are brief but graphic descriptions of people being shot (a gaping hole in their face, a halo of red pooling on the road, "her head undone, leaking out and soaking into the road"). During the night, one friend threatens another with a knife.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two of the friends seem to have crushes on each other. A character asks his friends if they think the gunman "got bored and went home to jack off?"
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Profanity, particularly "f--k," is regularly used along with "s--t," "a--hole," and "bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The refrigerator in the RV has been stocked with beer, vodka, and tequila. One of the teens gets drunk on bee and another drinks tequila.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Five Survive, by Holly Jackson (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder), is a thriller that takes place over only eight hours. Six friends (four in high school and two in college) are traveling in an RV from Philadelphia to Gulf Shores, Alabama for spring break. In rural North Carolina, the RV breaks down and they find themselves stranded in the darkness with no cell service. And it's not long before they discover they're not alone. They've been targeted by a gunman who wants only one thing from them -- a secret one of the six has been keeping. Violence and the threat of violence are a constant in this story. The friends never know when one of the bullets fired into the RV might kill them. Red is haunted by the execution-style murder of her mother and there are brief but graphic descriptions of people being shot ("Her head undone, leaking out and soaking into the road"). There's frequent strong language ("f--k,""s--t," "a--hole," and "bitch"). Characters drink and one gets drunk. Most of the time, the six friends manage to work together as a team under terrible and stressful circumstances, and some can be really courageous, even if their courage sometimes borders on the reckless. Characters are White, Mexican American, and biracial (White and Asian American).
Is It Any Good?
This dark and gripping thriller with a head-spinning number of plot twists features a cast of complex characters whose secrets will forever change their lives. Fans of Jackson's A Good Girl's Guide to Murder series won't be disappointed in Five Survive and its never-saw-that-coming ending.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.