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|
A contemporary take on the savage classic Lord of the Flies: a group of mismatched, modern-day teenagers must fight to survive on a deserted island. 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...
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.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Island by M A Bennett at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Island by M A Bennett at Amazon.com.
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