Any time a new Megan Miranda novel is announced, I find myself looking forward to it. As it is, I’ve read almost all of her thrillers, except maybe one that I still owe a review for. I hope to get to it soon. Either way, I’ve liked pretty much everything I’ve read by her, and have found her stuff to be both interesting and above average, not to mention pretty well-written. Thus, I downloaded an early review copy of The Only Survivors by Megan Miranda as soon as I saw that I could, and actually only took a couple of days to read it all.

The Only Survivors is, as you’d expect from such a title, the story of a group of young adults who faced a shared tragedy and lived. During their final year of high school, they all partook in a trip from North Carolina to Tennessee, where they were to help with Habitat for Humanity as a kind of service. However, after taking a detour through elevated switchbacks, in the hope of both finding a bathroom and bypassing a traffic jam, they ended up going off the edge of the road. Both of the vans carrying students did, leaving a number of people dead and a number of others wet, scared and also injured. The kicker? The school wouldn’t allow phones, so none of the survivors could call for help.

Every year, the ones who made it out of the vans and the rushing river they fell into meet up at one’s vacation home. This somewhat secluded island beach house is far away from where the accident occurred, but exists in an area that is known for bad weather, flooding, road closures, etc. so you can guess the rest. There, they spend a week as part remembrance and part punishment, even though they aren’t exactly close friends.

Why is The Only Survivors a thriller, then? Well, someone seems to have information about what happened that night, and is threatening to tell the press or worse. Choices were made, and only some survived, leaving secrets best left undiscovered. That’s all I’ll say though.

Most of this book is written from the first-person perspective of Cassidy; a survivor who wanted to skip this morbid reunion but wasn’t able to get away from the group. She finds herself with inklings that something isn’t right, and tries to piece things together. However, there are flashbacks to back then, which are told in third-person and aren’t just centred on Cassidy.

To be honest, it took a long while for me to get into this story, and I don’t think I ever identified with, or cared about, the characters all that much. Unlike Megan Miranda’s last book — which was one of, if not, her best — I struggled to get into this one, and found myself reading it to get it finished as opposed to needing to find out more. At least that was the case for a while, as I became more interested near the mid to later stages of this novel. Still, I’d be lying if I said I ever fully got into it or really liked it. It’s just ok at best, and probably the weakest of her thrillers. It’s definitely a big step down from The Last to Vanish.

Perhaps it’s a lack of depth, or maybe mediocre characters? Either way, I won’t really remember these ones. The book is also quite wordy and kind of repetitive, and it seemed like the layout of the house and the originally small island it resided on changed over time, to fit the story’s needs. The big twist also wasn’t too surprising.

The next paragraph, and it alone, contains light spoilers.

Most of all, it just didn’t seem like they had that much to feel bad about. They did what they needed to survive, except in one case.

The Only Survivors was a pretty well written story, though, even if it is my least favourite Megan Miranda book. That said, not all books can be winners, and it’s surely difficult to write a great new novel every year or so. Ms. Miranda has done a good job overall, and is allowed to stumble a bit, so to speak. Plus, it’s not like this is a bad book or something awful. It’s just very ‘meh.’

This review is based on a copy of the book that we were provided through NetGalley. Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada and NetGalley for facilitating. Receiving a free copy did not sway our opinion.

 

The Only Survivors by Megan Miranda Review
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