A wee while back I did a Friday five where I listed the 5 lowest rated books, according to Goodreads, on my TBR shelves. I contemplated doing a little blog project where I read them and let you know what I thought of them all. I have completed the first book of that list.
Title: The Island
Author: M A Bennett
Goodreads Rating: 3.23
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 . . .
Yeah This one was disappointing on so many levels. My problem is the main character doesn’t really learn anything, or what he did learn didn’t come across the way I think Bennet intended (see spoiler section bellow). It has all the stereotypes of the geek, the jock, the pretty girl, the goth girl that’s actually pretty underneath it all if only she didn’t dress like that and the overachieving Asian kid. None of these stereotypes are particularly challenged, no one seems to be overall changed by the experience, they come out of it basically the same people. As a reader it felt like all of it was sort of for nothing.
There were some interesting parts, the group learning to survive on the island and the downfall into power struggles was well done, and while I respect the choice to show the worst in human nature, the fact there was no comeuppance for that behaviour seemed to excuse it rather than condemn it.
I also take umbrage with the plot overall. While I initially liked the Lord of the Flies/ Lost, both of which are referenced ALOT, style feel to the island after the plane crash, the big reveal of what was actually going on was lack lustre. It played on the crazy scientist will do anything for there science trope. Which I have spoke at length about how I feel that is a lazy trope. This coupled with the epilogue which basically let all the characters away with the despicable things they did on that island and allowed them the perfect happy ending with no consequences just made for a disappointing plot out of what was an initially interesting premise.
I have been assured by bookish friends that this book is an anomaly and that M.A Bennetts other works are far better. I also have STAGS on my TBR and will give that a read soon.
—- Spoiler Section —– While on the island Link uses the power he has earned to exploit his fellow female students for his own pleasure, this is distasteful enough, but only stops when they work out that they have been filmed the whole time. His shame is only in the fact that he was caught not in what he was actually doing, there wasn’t enough remorse or recompense for that. This leaves a bad taste in my mouth as he is still painted as the hero right up until the end of the book, where we see him in his destined role of President of the United States.