My Rating ~ Three stars
RELEASED: 30 July 2018
Source: Received from Allen & Unwin in exchange for an honest review
Link is a fish out of water. Newly arrived from America, he is finding it hard to settle into the venerable and prestigious Osney School. Who knew there could be so many strange traditions to understand? And what kind of school ranks its students by how fast they can run round the school quad – however ancient that quad may be? When Link runs the slowest time in years, he immediately becomes the butt of every school joke. And some students are determined to make his life more miserable than others . . .
When a school summer trip is offered, Link can think of nothing worse than spending voluntary time with his worst tormentors. But when his parents say he can only leave Osney School – forever – if he goes on the trip, Link decides to endure it for the ultimate prize. But this particular trip will require a very special sort of endurance. The saying goes ‘No man is an island’ – but what if on that island is a group of teenagers, none of whom particularly like each other? When oppressive heat, hunger and thirst start to bite, everyone’s true colours will be revealed. Let the battle commence . . .
Many thanks to Allen and Unwin for providing me with this copy of The Island in exchange for an honest review.
Link has been homeschooled all his life, until his parents decide he will need to go to school to learn from specialists in the field and socialise with kids his own age. They send him to Osney, a prestigious school for sporting athletes. At Osney, everything revolves around sport and, unfortunately for Link, he is not the sporting type. So starts three years of intense bullying by his classmates. When he approaches his parents about leaving school, they agree on the proviso he go on the school summer “life skills” trip he has already signed up for.
When he wakes up on a deserted island, after a plane crash he can’t remember, he realises he is now stuck on an island with some of his worst tormentors. They’re not at Osney anymore, but does that mean new rules, and new hierarchies will apply?
I liked the concept of this book and the actual storyline of the time on the island, but I really detested Link. I acknowledge that he did experience bullying at school, but the sheer bitterness and power games he played on the island made him just as bad as all the others. It really made me cringe and I often find it difficult to truly enjoy a book to the fullest when I strongly dislike the main character. I think it was the author’s intention to have us feel sorry for Link, but at the same time make him into a bit of an antihero, but he just came across as completely unlikeable.
The writing style was a bit off for me too. Every character was so stereotypical, just magnified. The “jocks” were dumb brutes, the “pretty girls” were beautiful, athletic and unintelligent, and Link was a stereotypical “nerd” in every sense of the word. It almost felt like the author had watched something like the old Revenge of the Nerds movies and formed his characters around that. I didn’t get the impression that the author actually had any real life experience with the stereotypes displayed, so it really felt like she’d tried too hard to imagine what they ‘must think and feel like’. It just came across a bit flat and unrelateable.
There were a lot of references to old and modern music, plus movies such as The Breakfast Club and books such as The Count of Monte Cristo. These were cleverly woven into the story and kept a modern feeling to the book. Most of the story was fairly predictable, but it was still quite a fun read and moved along at a good pace.
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