The Island by M A Bennett
|The Island by M A Bennett|
|Reviewer: Alex Mitchell|
|Summary: A well-written take on a piece of classic literature, packed with reasonably three-dimensional characters, and an interesting underlying plot full of twists and turns.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 304||Date: August 2018|
|Publisher: Hot Key Books|
After moving from the United States to Oxford, young Link is set to attend the prestigious Osney School. He is confounded by the bizarre old traditions of the school, such as judging the worth of a student by how fast they can run around the Quad. When he runs the slowest time in years, he becomes the biggest joke in the school and his peers set out to make his life a living hell. When a summer trip rolls around, Link can't think of anything worse than having to spend more time around them. But when his parents say he can leave Osney if he goes on this trip, Link is more than happy to put up with his obnoxious schoolmates knowing that he'd never have to see them again afterwards. But, when their plane crashes on a remote island, Link realises he might have to endure more than just his classmate's antics. As hunger, thirst and desperation set in, everyone's true colours start to bleed through...
The book is, first and foremost, a character study of each of the survivors on the island, who initially all seem to conform to various high-school stereotypes. Link, our protagonist, is the archetypal geek, being interested in books and video games. He's the only member of the group who actually has any clue as to how to survive on the island. His primary tormentor is Sebastian Loam, the archetypal 'Jock' – big, handsome, good at sports, but completely lacking in any sort of academic ability. Gil Egan, Sebastian's partner-in-crime, is like an inverted version of Link, being just as intelligent as the latter, but completely loyal to Sebastian. Miranda Pencroft, the archetypal 'Beautiful Girl' also happens to be Sebastian's girlfriend. Her friend Jun Am Li is the stereotypical 'Asian Overachiever', who wishes to become a famous violinist one day. There is also Ralph Turk, who acts very much like the stereotypical 'chav', despite being from a quite wealthy part of Oxford. And finally, there is Flora, who seems to be an 'emo', and is also one of the few people Link thinks of as a friend. However, as the end of the book reveals, this was most likely intentional, and each of the characters turns out to be so much more than their initial appearance would suggest.
Much like The Lord of the Flies, The Island chronicles the survivors' descent into insanity. However, rather than the entire group descending into barbarity, the book follows Link's descent into tyranny. Being the only one of the survivors with any knowledge of how to survive on the island, naturally, the others all start to rally around him and respect him more. However, after being tormented by these people, Link sets out to rule the island with an iron fist, and make the other students pay for what they did to him. It's very much a learning experience for Link, as he sees how power corrupts even fundamentally decent people like himself.
Another quite interesting aspect of this book is the prominence of Desert Island Discs. Link and his parents are both fans of the programme, and in his conversations with the other survivors, he often asks which six tracks they'd ideally like to have with them. It also features quite largely in the ending, as the island's true nature is revealed to the reader.
Overall, this book is a well-written take on a piece of classic literature, packed with reasonably three-dimensional characters, and an interesting underlying plot full of twists and turns.
Similar books by other authors:
Marooned in the Arctic by Peggy Caravantes – a similar, although more biographical, story for older readers also dealing with a mismatched group of people on a mission to survive in one of the most inhospitable places on earth. Older readers might appreciate Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Island by M A Bennett at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Island by M A Bennett at Amazon.com.
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