In “Any Sign of Life,” Rae Carson pulls her readers into a world of mystery and mayhem with the first sentence. When Paige Miller wakes up, all she knows is that she fell asleep early the night before due to a fever. Except she soon finds that it wasn’t the night before, it was six days ago, and now her house is eerily quiet. Weak from being in a coma and fed by I.V. bags, Paige pulls herself from her room to look for her family, and finds that she is the only one in her house–and her town–still alive. Traveling beyond her town, Paige finds that she is not the only one left alive, but that there are very few people scattered around the city and the world. If she has any hope of finding answers and safety Paige–and her two unlikely friends–have to make their way from Columbus to Sandusky while avoiding unknown dangers.
During “Any Sign of Life” I found myself crying and laughing with these characters as they navigated the dangerous world they found themselves in with both fear and humor. I was also startled to realize that this book takes place in Ohio (specifically in Columbus and Sandusky) and while reading I could envision the places where Paige, Tanq, and Trey were traveling. In turn, that added to a strange sense of disoriented fear as Paige described the endless abandonment of Columbus and pointed out areas that I am familiar with. Carson’s writing was, at times, more graphic than I am normally comfortable with, but done in a way that highlighted the struggles of the characters, and advanced the plot. We see Paige going from a weakened, sick teenager to someone who is willing to fight not only for her future but the future of the entire world.
Though this is another YA apocalypse story, Carson is a master of weaving together intricate plots and relatable characters without sacrificing her originality. From the very beginning, readers want to know more about what happened to the world while Paige was unconscious, and who was responsible for its near destruction. It ends on a hopefully uncertain note as the characters find answers, but also realize that the fate of the world lies in their hands.
If you read and enjoyed “Any Sign of Life” I would recommend checking out Rae Carson’s other works. I particularly liked the first book in Carson’s YA fantasy series, “The Girl of Fire and Thorns,” and its recent novel “The Empire of Dreams.”
Review By Sarah Bihn (She/Her)
MLIS Student, Kent State iSchool