If We Survive

If We Survive

by Andrew Klavan


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They came on a mission of mercy, but now they’re in a fight for their lives.

High schooler Will Peterson and three friends journeyed to Central America to help rebuild a school. In a poor, secluded mountain village, they won the hearts of the local people with their energy and kindness.

But in one sudden moment, everything went horribly wrong. A revolution swept the country. Now, guns and terror are everywhere—and Americans are being targeted as the first to die.

Will and his friends have got to get out fast. But streets full of killers . . .hills patrolled by armies . . . and a jungle rife with danger stand between them and the border. Their one hope of escape lies with a veteran warrior who has lost his faith and may betray them at any moment. Their one dream is to reach freedom and safety and home.

If they can just survive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781595547965
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 08/13/2013
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 407,330
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 10.20(h) x 1.30(d)
Lexile: HL720L (what's this?)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

Andrew Klavan is an award-winning writer, screenwriter, and media commentator. An internationally bestselling novelist and two-time Edgar Award-winner, Klavan is also a contributing editor to City Journal, the magazine of the Manhattan Institute, and the host of a popular political podcast on DailyWire.com. His essays and op-eds on politics, religion, movies, and literature have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, and elsewhere. He lives in Southern California.

Read an Excerpt



Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2012 Andrew Klavan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4016-8812-7

Chapter One

There were five of us before the killing started. We had come to Costa Verdes to build a wall.

It was a poor country. A jungle country. A small country set on that narrow, twisting bridge of land that links Mexico to Colombia: Central America. The village we were in—Santiago—was a nothing of a place. Just a church in a flagstone plaza. A three-story-tall cantina-slash-hotel. A narrow street of shops and market stalls. And houses—little cottages really—trailing away up the road and into the mountains.

There were a lot of mountains in Costa Verdes. There were mountains everywhere, as far as the eye could see. They rose against the pale-blue sky in the morning, hunkered under black thunderclouds in the afternoon, and stood silhouetted beneath the stars at night. They were covered with forest, deep beryl green up close, blue-gray in the distance. And there was always mist rising out of the trees, spreading over the peaks and covering the horizon with an aura of mystery.

As for the wall we were building here in the village, it was the wall of a school—the only school for miles around. Not only the kids in the village used it, but all the kids from the farms and plantations on the nearby slopes: two dozen kids, maybe more, and of all ages. The wall had been destroyed somehow—I wasn't sure how exactly. Los volcanes, the natives kept telling us. The volcanoes. But that didn't make any sense. The only volcano I could see was miles and miles in the distance. I could only just make out its strange, flattened top, only just distinguish the trail of smoke that sometimes drifted from its ragged crater to blend with the mist hanging all around it. I didn't understand how "volcanoes" could have turned the school wall to rubble.

But rubble is what it was when we got there. And the school hadn't been much to begin with either. It was just a rectangular box made of cinder blocks with a long bench on each side for the kids to sit on, and a table and a blackboard up front for the teacher. Pretty pitiful when I compared it to my own school back home in California: Grove High, with its corridors and classrooms, its laboratories and library, its huge gym and football field and track and so on. Here in the Santiago cinder-block school, the kids barely had books to read and stuff to write with. Seriously: they used half pencils—pencils broken in half so there'd be enough to go around. They wrote on these little ragged notebooks, the blue covers nearly worn away, the pages full even at the borders because they had to use every inch of blank space they could find.

That's what it was like when they went to school, but they couldn't go much now with the wall demolished and one of the benches upside down on the floor amid the debris. Three cinder-block walls and a pile of gravel where the fourth one used to be—that was their schoolhouse now. Los volcanes. Whatever. We came to rebuild the place.

It was a church project. Or a church-slash-school project, to be more precise. The villagers here were too poor to buy the wall material themselves, and the local men were too busy working for their daily bread to take time to put the schoolhouse back together. So our church had taken up a collection for the cinder blocks and tools and mortar and so on, and then called for volunteers to come down here for a week or so during the summer break and slap the thing back up so the kids could get some kind of education. Grove High put up posters about the mission too, and Principal Hagen mentioned it during an assembly. In the end, some of us joined up in the name of Christian outreach and some of us came to get the Public Service credits we needed for graduation. Some of us had our own reasons too. Well, I guess all of us had our own reasons, when it comes down to it.

* * *

So who were we?

Well, let's see, there was Pastor Ron, first of all. Ron Collins, the associate minister at our church. He was a small, thin guy, with a bland, friendly face, eyes blinking out from behind his thick dark-rimmed glasses. He was young, mild-mannered, enthusiastic. Maybe a little too enthusiastic sometimes, if you ask me. Trying too hard to make things exciting and interesting to his teenage traveling companions. You may know the type. Always wanting everyone to think everything was fun, fun, fun—and then getting sort of quietly disgruntled and annoyed when anyone thought it was not, not, not. But I don't want to be unfair to him: he was a good guy, he really was. He always had time to listen to you and help you out if you had a problem. And his sermons were a lot more intelligent and interesting than the ones given by the head pastor, Pastor Francis. It's just that Pastor Ron was sometimes a little bit ... clueless, I guess you'd say.

I'll give you an example. Once, shortly after we arrived in the village, Pastor Ron saw a little kid threatening a bigger kid with a stick. The little kid had his back against a cottage wall. The big kid—a big, fat hulking monster of a guy—was hovering over him, his hands balled into fists and his face darkening like a rain cloud. The little guy was holding a stick in front of him with both hands. He was so scared, you could see the stick vibrating as his hands shook.

Now, see, to me, it was pretty clear that the little kid was defending himself against the big kid in the only way he knew how. But Pastor Ron went hurrying over to the two of them and quickly pulled the stick out of his hands.

"No, no, mi amigo," Pastor Ron said in his flat, American-accented Spanish.

He knelt down between the boys and put a hand on a shoulder of each. He began talking to them in the quiet, patient, friendly way he had. I don't speak much Spanish myself, but I could make out some of what he was saying. He was telling the boys how wrong it was to do violence, and how it was especially dangerous to fight with sticks because you could take someone's eye out and leave him blind. He said the boys had to learn to be friends and give up fighting ... and so on.

"Comprendez, amigos?" he asked. Do you understand, my friends?

The boys nodded, their big round eyes staring into the friendly stranger's face.

"Bueno," said Pastor Ron.

He patted them on the shoulders and stood up. And looking very satisfied with himself, he walked off to our tents, carrying the stick with him.

You can probably guess what happened then. In fact, I'm sure you can. The minute Pastor Ron ducked into our tent and was out of sight, the big kid—seeing the little kid had lost his only means of defense—hauled off and punched that poor little mite so hard, the boy literally left his feet before he thumped down to the ground in a cloud of brown dust. Man, that punch even made me see stars and hear the birdies sing, and I was standing nearly twenty yards away.

Happy then, the big kid went tromping off down the road, leaving the little kid sitting in the dirt, sobbing and rubbing his eyes with his fists.

That's all I'm saying about Pastor Ron. Nice guy. Good intentions. Just a little clueless, that's all.

* * *

Then there was Nicki—Nicki Wilson. Or—as I sometimes called her secretly, in my own thoughts—High School Barbie. Which was maybe a little unfair. I mean, Nicki had a lot of sweetness to her, she really did. And she was glamorous: pretty in a sort of flashy way with wavy blond-brown hair and big, deep-blue eyes that could blink innocently at you and send your heart reeling. Her makeup was always perfect, even out there in the middle of nowhere. Her clothes likewise were always neat and elegant, even in the wilting heat of noon before the thunderstorms started. When she walked up the little dirt path to our worksite, the people of Santiago actually stopped and stared at her with awe, as if she were a visiting princess or something. The little girls in the village—they loved her especially. And she was great with them, always ready to sit down with them on a bench and show them how to decorate their clothes with ribbons and rhinestones she had with her or how to tie up their hair in different ways.

So Nicki was sweet like that, but she was also just a little bit ... what's the word I want? Shallow, I guess. She was seven teen, had just finished eleventh grade, and had left her Public Service credits till the last minute. She had come on this mission to Costa Verdes, as I overheard her say once, because she just couldn't stand the horror of having to waste her senior year doing some dreary something-or-other in a homeless shelter when everyone knew twelfth grade was supposed to be one long party.

She wasn't a lot of help with the wall either. It was a hard job. We had to dig a huge pit for the old debris, clear the rubble away, and cover it over. Then we had to haul the cinder blocks up the hill from the plaza where the truck had left them. We had to reset the big footer in the foundation, mix the mortar in a wheelbarrow, and so forth. And Nicki—well, just being honest here: she had a tendency to dog it a little, if you know what I mean. She'd sort of delicately lay some mortar on top of one of the blocks, wrinkling her nose at the yucky stuff as if it were a dead animal and handling the trowel as if it were the ten-foot pole she didn't want to touch it with. And then, the first second she thought she could get away with it, she'd heave a humongous sigh, blowing a stray curl off her pretty forehead, and she'd say, "I have to take a break! I'm just exhausted!"

On top of that, she had absolutely zero appreciation for how blessed we Americans are—you know, how nice our homes are, even the small ones, how much we have, even when we think we don't have that much. The people in Santiago—they had nothing. I mean, nothing. Their houses were clay boxes roofed in thatch. Most of them didn't have electricity or running water. The dads worked in the fields all day and the moms literally had to do the laundry at the river, down on their knees, scrubbing the clothes in the water.

"How could anyone live this way?" I once heard Nicki whisper under her breath. "You can't even get online!"

And okay, it was sort of weird—our cell phones didn't work and the Internet was only available at the cantina. We were all suffering Facebook withdrawal. But it didn't occur to Nicki that a whole lot of the world lives like that, you know. In fact, we in America, with all the stuff and gadgets and connections we have, we're the exceptions, the lucky ones—oh, and by the way, most of us didn't have a lot to do with making that happen.

Listen, I don't want to be all critical and pick on Nicki, because as I said, she was a sweet girl really, with a true depth of kindness in her ... but I do have to tell this one story on her just because it makes me laugh.

One day, toward the end of our visit, when the wall was just about finished, the natives invited us to a ceremony. This was a big compliment—an honor really. The people of Costa Verdes are Christians—Catholics—but the country's original religion is some kind of ancient Mayan thing, and it still survives under the surface of the culture. That is, the people go to the church in the plaza every Sunday and all, but they still have a couple of festivals and ceremonies from the old days—part of that religion they surrendered when the Spanish explorers came and converted them.

Most of the time, they didn't let strangers come to these ceremonies. But I guess they were grateful to us for fixing their school and all, so they invited us along. And let me tell you, it was cool. I mean, hypercool, cool to the magnitude of awesome. We all gathered very solemnly in this cave—really, a cave hidden under vegetation in a side of one of the mountains. We sat against the cave wall and the only light was the flickering flame from a torch this old priest was carrying. The priest looked like he was about two hundred years old, he was so stooped and brown and wrinkled. He moved around the cave in front of us, lighting a bunch of candles with his torch so that the whole place glowed with this sort of wavering yellow light.

Then this big wooden statue was carried in by two of the men from the village. A carved, painted statue of some sort of grinning skeleton man. Very cool. Like some kind of Batman villain. I guess he was the god they were worshipping.

The men set the statue in the center of the cave. Then the priest—and I swear I'm not making this up—gave the god a cigar to smoke. No, really. He stuck the cigar in the god's grinning mouth and lit it for him with one of the candles! Then, when the god was comfortably enjoying a smoke, the priest moved around among the candles, swinging this balled cloth that spread a sweet smell everywhere like incense. And all the people clapped and sang and chanted, with their eyes shining and their faces looking kind of rapt and devout and happy. Very, very, very cool. Made me wish we did stuff like that in our church sometimes! Well, not really. But you know what I mean.

So anyway, this whole ancient, sacred ceremony went on, with all of us Americans being honored by being allowed to watch. And there we were, in this mystical cave full of candles and incense and chanting people. And finally, when it was over, the priest blew out the candles one by one, and the cave sank into a blackness that you could never describe, never even imagine, just a complete, lightless nothingness full of the fading echoes of the people's prayers. Then silence. Total darkness. Total silence.

And out of that silent darkness came Nicki's voice—a sort of lazy, complaining whine.

"I am in such a shopping mood today!" she said.

I nearly pitched forward onto my face laughing. That was Nicki all over, it really was. The natives honored us by sharing their most ancient secrets, and all she could think about was scoring a new pink T at A&F!

Sweet girl, just ... shallow.

* * *

And then there was Jim Nolan. And you know the old expression, "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all"?

Well, I haven't got much to say about Jim Nolan.

Jim was the smartest person in the universe—if, that is, the universe were his own imagination—which I think he believed it was. Jim was sixteen. Tall, very skinny, stoop-shouldered. Had kind of bugged-out eyes and very thin lips that he always seemed to be pressing together in disapproval of something. He really did know a lot—or he thought he did, anyway—about history and books and so forth. And whenever anyone said anything about practically anything, he was only too willing to correct them about it and give them a lecture on what he thought was the truth of the matter.

"We—we Americans, I mean—we destroyed this country, that's the fact of it," I heard him say once.

I was coming down the hill after helping Pastor Ron and the others drag tarps over our building materials in preparation for the afternoon storms. I heard Jim talking before I saw him.

"General Benitez was a great reformer," Jim went on. "There's just no question he would have redistributed the land more fairly. It's only because our CIA took it upon themselves to come in here and help the reactionaries overthrow him that you continue to have the poverty and unfairness you have today!"

Typical Jim. All the poverty and misery in the world was America's fault. Just as it never occurred to Nicki that poverty and misery were the default mode of the planet and we should be grateful for what we had, it never occurred to Jim that we didn't cause that poverty and misery; it was there long before we got here.

Anyway ... I heard him talking like that and I came around a stand of thick-trunked evergreen trees and then I saw him. He was standing in a little clearing with a group of men. The men were sitting on the ground and Jim was standing over them as if he were a professor giving them an open-air lecture. He was pointing a finger at them as he spoke, driving his ideas home as the words tumbled out of him.

The men? They just sat there, gazing up at him with dull eyes. One of them I noticed looked particularly mean. A lean, broad-shouldered guy in his thirties. He had a craggy face, weatherworn and somber. A thin mustache, a cigarette dangling from the full red lips underneath. His eyes looked to me to be almost black. And the way he was looking up at Jim—with a sort of droll, distant, disdainful humor—well, it was the way someone might look at a spider who was just disgusting enough to hold his attention for a few seconds before he stepped on it.

That guy—that guy with the mean eyes? That was Mendoza, it turned out. I would see him again. Hanging out around the edges of the village. Talking to some of the men there. Talking to Pastor Ron once, as if they were having a philosophical debate of some kind.

And of course later, in the cantina, with his gun.


Excerpted from IF WE SURVIVE by ANDREW KLAVAN Copyright © 2012 by Andrew Klavan. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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If We Survive 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
richardblake More than 1 year ago
A Masterpiece of Action, Adventure, and Spine Tingling SuspenseAward winner author Andrew Klavan has produced another winner in “If We Survive.” This is a young adult fiction novel filled with intrigue, revolution, jungle survival, Christian core values, adventure, and nonstop action. Klavan has a writing style that allows the reader to get into the “soul” of his characters, their thinking, their fears, opinions, biases, and values. Sixteen year old Will Peterson relates the story of a volunteer short term mission project in Central America turned from a service motivated commission to a nightmare of horror as terrorists take over the country. Americans become targets as enemies of the new government and Will’s team find themselves in danger of imminent death. They are fire at by machine guns; then stalked by wild beasts and the danger of crocodiles and water snakes in the foaming white rapids over the rocks rushing toward the falls, as they seek refuge in the density of the jungle. Klavan’s characters grow and learn through their experiences as the plot progresses; they show maturity in judgment and trade cowardice for bravery when faced with difficult decisions requiring sacrifice and selflessness. A reading guide is provided for group use. This is a book for anyone who has ever volunteered for a short term mission project in a country where political may break out into a crisis of danger, fear and horror. “If We Survive” is a masterpiece of action, adventure, spine tingling suspense. A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.
ReadSomeMore More than 1 year ago
Right from the opening line the author pulls you into the story. As a homeschool mom I was looking for an interesting read for my teen boys...I was hooked and have now purchased copies for all my teen relatives! Enjoy!
PlantsandPillars More than 1 year ago
The Story: Mission trips are usually normal. Usually. Especially mission trips to help school children in Central America. Will Peterson and his three friends, are sheltered, rather pampered, highschoolers who can't wait to return to their video games and shopping excursions. They are in Costa Verdes to build a wall with their pastor. Partly out of a want to serve and partly to earn required service points. It should be a rather uneventful experience and that's what they get. Until the shooting starts. Caught in the middle of a bloody revolution, Will and his friends are aghast at the hatred surrounding them. Their title as Americans is a death warrant and they are sentenced to death. Their one ticket out is a bitter ex-marine who has turned his back on trusting anyone. Trapped in the jungle with killers, snakes, and lost Indian tribes, they journey to home and freedom. If they survive. Violence There was some violence in this book. Knowing beforehand what the plot line was, I was not surprised at the violence and it was handled very well. One thing I love about Andrew Klavan is his respect for life. Will does kill someone in the book by shooting them. However, he does it out of defense for his friends and it haunts him the rest of the book. A wiser man explains to him that it is good and right for him to regret having to end a human life, but that sometimes that is the only way to end evil and protect those you love. Again, wonderfully handled and shouldn't be a problem for a mature audience. Indecency A kiss is exchanged. Other than that the only thing is when they are *spoilers* in jail. The girls are separated from the boys and apparently made to endure the soldiers' comments. Eventually one of the girls slaps the soldiers and tells them they wouldn't want their sister treated this way. The only reason the heroes weren't at the girls' sides was they were imprisoned. Another great theme in Klavan's young adult books his the great respect the boys have for the women. Language None as I recall. Overall Rating 5 star! Great book!
wnk More than 1 year ago
My husband took a look at the cover of this book and thought it was a zombie novel. Sadly, no, you won’t find any zombies in this book. What you will find, though, is a group of Christians fighting for their lives among murderous insurrectionists, poisonous snakes, bone-shattering rapids, and all of the dangers of a Central American jungle. The characters are dynamic, complex, and people whom — despite their flaws — the reader grows to care about and understand. The influence of their Christian faith prevails in this book, as they struggle to see God’s hand at work and to trust Him in all things. There really was very little about this book that I didn't like. I’m not a huge fan of drawn-out action scenes, so some of those got a bit long, but even then,they were peppered with Will — the narrator–’s unique, humorous realism. The fact that shooting a gun for the first time reminds him of playing Gears of War made me smile; it’s exactly the sort of thing that a teen (well, or I) would be thinking in that situation. I also really enjoyed seeing how his admiration for his love interest played out — again, acutely realistic yet somewhat unpredictable. Overall: Klavan once again shows that YA Christian fiction can be exciting, daring, and intense.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Often simplistic, incredulous...but end to end wanting more. Glad I found this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing the story everything I love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read 8 of Klavan's books so far and all of them are amazing
InspirationalAngel531 More than 1 year ago
Title: If We Survive Author: Andrew Klavan Published: 11-6-2012 Publisher: Thomas Nelson Pages: 340 Genre: Action & Adventure Sub Genre: Teen & Young Adult; Inspirational; Survival Stories ISBN: 13: 9781595547958 ASIN: B008GVZ24Y Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley Rating: 4.75 Stars I received a copy of "If We Survive" from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Publisher's Description: They came on a mission of mercy, but now they’re in a fight for their lives. High schooler Will Peterson and three friends journeyed to Central America to help rebuild a school. In a poor, secluded mountain village, they won the hearts of the local people with their energy and kindness. But in one sudden moment, everything went horribly wrong. A revolution swept the country. Now, guns and terror are everywhere—and Americans are being targeted as the first to die. Will and his friends have got to get out fast. But streets full of killers . . . hills patrolled by armies . . . and a jungle rife with danger stand between them and the border. Their one hope of escape lies with a veteran warrior who has lost his faith and may betray them at any moment. Their one dream is to reach freedom and safety and home. If they can just survive. My Review: What started out as a mission of mercy to others soon becomes a fight for survival for 5 American Missionaries. With a draw like that who could resist reading "If We Survive". Andrew Klavan has created characters that are bold and multi-layered. They are believable and likable. Their journey to freedom is told in vivid detail. Bringing it to life in the minds of the reader. My rating for "If We Survive" is 4.75 out of 5 stars. You can not go wrong on this daring trek to safety as they outrun gunrunners, rebels and various gorilla soldiers out to make examples of the Americans before they reach the border. With only a guide they can't trust, and their faith in God to keep them alive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book:}
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best ive ever read. I was hooked from thfirst line. Mr. Klavan, keep on writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book that is filled with action, suspense, and adventure. I couldn't put this book down and neither could my 12 yr old son. A great book no matter your age or theme preference.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book! Klavan is my all time favorite author and this is one of his best works ever. Very inspiring and yet very real.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most books just have a main plot and only a few action scenes. This one has a new adventure turning every page! I enjoyed this book to its fullest!
gjo50 More than 1 year ago
Thrilling Adventure for Teens This is an excellent choice for students who have been on mission trips or know of people who have been on mission trips. If you have been in a third world country, it is easy to see how easily a small number of people could stage a take over. Though I enjoyed it thoroughly, it probably plays better to teens, and is safe for all ages, though there is some violence. School libraries and homeschoolers alike will enjoy the wild ride, and make them think about what it would be like to be in similar situations. It will definitely make an exciting addition to all libraries. 
TheAddLibrarian More than 1 year ago
"We were in the cantina waiting for a bus when Mendoza walked in and shot the waiter dead." ~ If We Survive That opening line hooked me and wouldn't let go. A missions trip in Central America goes horribly wrong when Will and his friends are caught in the middle of a violent revolution. The latest novel from Andrew Klavan, (whom I've raved about before) If We Survive is masterful writing. The non-stop action draws you in and and keeps you furiously turning pages, yet Will's internal struggle to make sense of the violence around him will make you consider your own beliefs about poverty, patriotism, and sacrifice. A great read from start to finish!
Bookishqueen More than 1 year ago
Andrew Klavan is a great writer. This book, along with all the others of his I have read, are described so that I feel like I am there. Usually I really enjoy his books. However, I did not care for this one a whole lot. Immediately, I was drawn into the story with the description of Mendoza and the Cantina. Will is a great hero and feels a lot of emotions that I would probably feel myself. The problems came soon after this. I did not care for any of the other characters. They were all either idiots or the most heroic people ever with no one but Will in between. To make it worse, I always felt like the supporting characters were preaching at me and then not always even about God and faith. Meredith is not afraid of hardly anything and preaches constantly about courage, making her unreal. Jon preaches about American interference and Palmer about how there is never a side that is ever completely right. I felt like I was reading propaganda but was not sure who I was supposed to cheer for or if the point was that I should not care at all.
Kellie4 More than 1 year ago
If We Survive by Andrew Klavin was interesting but did not hold or catch my attention. The plot was quite interesting and the characters were well developed, but overall it was not a story that I was thrilled to read and therefore it took me awhile. The opening did a good job getting you hooked into the story, however, immediately after the main character simply explained who the other characters were and it was quite childish in my opinion, the way it was written. Following is a brief synopsis of the book: Will Peterson is a high schooler. He and three friends journey to Central America to help rebuild a school. In one very sudden moment, a revolution swept the country and any and all Americans are targeted as the first to die. The story does have great adventure and action scenes. So anyone interested in that will enjoy the book. Thanks Booksneeze for the opportunity to read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
picnerd More than 1 year ago
I read Andrew Klavan's Crazy Dangerous a while back, so I came into If We Survive with some expectations regarding pace, prose, etc. I was not disappointed. This was a very fun, very fast read, which follows a group of kids through the jungles of Costa Verdes, dodging bullets, poisonous snakes, and raging rapids in an attempt to escape with their very lives. The main character is Will Peterson, a 'normal' 16-year-old who wants to be a hero. He went on a missions-trip/school project to Costa Verdes to help rebuild a school, and minutes before they leave the country, a revolution breaks out. Because of their being Americans, and because they tick one of the leaders off, they are set to be executed. They narrowly escape, and it's a run for their lives for the border. In the midst of a gripping tale, Andrew Klavan manages to weave in some complex ideas.....ideas like how to cope with killing someone in battle, the discrepancy between what we read and what really is happening in other parts of the world, and questions like "am I so very different from murderous revolutionaries?" or "what does it mean to be a hero?" Needless to say, I would highly recommend this book. I received a copy of this book from the publishing company and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed here are my own.