Reviews for The Unfortunates

by Kim Liggett

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Who is Grant Franklin Tavish V? "A murderer."The son of a Virginia senator, Grant's life is mapped out to the smallest detail: his affluent community, his friends, his girlfriend. And thanks to his father's connections, Grant can walk away scot-free from the fatal car accident he caused. The guilt, however, proves too much. When Grant sets off on a caving excursiona tradition that all Tavish men undergo before high school graduationhe plans to take his own life as a form of recompense. Except that a cave collapse traps him underground along with four other teens. Now the group must explore the cave system together in order to escape its hellish embrace while also evading something sinister lurking in its shadows. Situating readers squarely within Grant's anguished point of view, Liggett (Heart of Ash, 2018, etc.) builds up Grant's stifling, privileged life. The other teen characters represent the less fortunate, a group plagued by poverty, bad home lives, and other stereotypes. Unfortunately, Grant's cave companions offer little beyond a single purpose: to feed into his self-development. Still, the author excels at weaving a tightly-packed narrative. As the teens struggle to find a way out, bonding during the ordeal, the cave starts claiming its victims. The story soon reaches its predictable, but somewhat satisfying, finale. One character is implied Latina; otherwise a white default is assumed.A gruesome, superficial subterranean tale of redemption. (Thriller. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Grant Franklin Tavish the fifth is one week away from a court date; his father, a senator, is constantly reminding him of his new mantra: I don't remember anything. He is infamous in town since the incident, and Grant doesn't know if he can live with himself much longer. When he leaves home for his caving pilgrimage a tradition among the men in his family he begins to wonder whether he deserves to come back alive, and a collapse in the cave seems to be a sure sign from the universe. As he and four other trapped teens blindly stumble through the darkness against increasingly grim odds, Grant can't seem to escape the idea that someone, or something, is following them. Liggett (The Last Harvest, 2017) uses the teens' harrowing journey to tackle themes of prejudice, privilege, and taking ownership for irresponsible and life-altering decisions, even when it seems to go against all sense of self-preservation. Sometimes it can be terrifying to discover who the monsters really are, in the end.--Bittner, Rob Copyright 2018 Booklist


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 9 Up-Grant Franklin Tavish V is in a living nightmare: trapped underground and lost in a cave with dwindling supplies of food, water, and batteries for his flashlight. Yet, in that very horrific circumstance, he experiences moments of friendship more honest than he ever has before. Grant is racked with guilt over an accident he caused. His rich, politician father managed to pull some strings and avoid jail time for his son, but this very lack of consequences is only adding to Grant's remorse. Grant's self-hatred festers to the point that he decides to utilize his solo caving trip-a Tavish tradition and rite of passage-to stage his suicide as an accident. But when he meets four teens from a poor district who are also trapped in the cave, he starts to change his mind. However, there is something else in the cave, and it's hunting them. Liggett weaves a short, exciting thriller full of twists. Not only does the plot shift frequently, but so does the overall message of the book. What starts off as a realistic exploration of teenage guilt turns quickly into a horror story, and unsuccessfully conveys messages about privilege and inequity. Experienced readers of thrillers may see the finale coming, but this straightforward narrative will appeal to reluctant readers. VERDICT An additional purchase for libraries in need of thrillers or YA horror.-Emily Butler, -Deerfield Academy, MA Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

At 17, Grant Franklin Tavish has a very bright future ahead of him. The son of a senator, attending an elite school, surrounded by peers of similar social and economic standing-Grant's life should be simple. Except that, after the "incident" (a car accident caused by Grant that kills "a carful of people"), he can't help but feel that he is literally getting away with murder. Wracked with guilt, Grant decides the only way to face the consequences of his actions is to ensure that he does not return from a solitary caving trip-a Tavish family rite of passage. Grant's plans are spoiled when an avalanche, which he believes he's responsible for, traps four teens in the caves with him. Determined to save their lives, Grant is not only forced to face his own demons and finally own up to his actions, but also to use every ounce of survivalist skill he has in order to make it out of the caves alive. Liggett (The Last Harvest) uses elements of horror in this tale of psychological suspense. Her characters are prodded in the right direction by an external force that may very well be a figment of a guilty imagination. Ages 14-up. Agent: Jaida Temperly, New Leaf Literary & Media. (July) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.