February 26, 2018

Island Games by Caleb J. Boyer

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Island Games by Caleb J. Boyer follows two teenage boys, Matthew and Ryan, after they are randomly dropped on a desert island and forced to survive a series of traps and solve puzzles to try to escape the island. The boys soon discover that truly working together is their only hope for survival. As the story progresses, the boys are transported to different quadrants on the island, ranging from tropical to desert, prairie to frozen tundra. Each quadrant comes with its own set of challenges, which when successfully passed results in a bounty of supplies for the boys designed only to last until the next test.

I think this book is decent as a middle grade, but way too juvenile to be really considered young adult. The reading level and vocabulary just aligns much better with 6-8 grade than 9-12. The characters to me also acted more in the middle grade age range than high school range. Matthew and Ryan were smart, but also acted incredibly juvenile. In a life or death situation like survival on an island, I would hope there would be more seriousness and planning and less joking around. Yes, humor is a way to make light of a difficult time, but sometimes it just didn't suit the situation in this story.

The plot and overall concept were excellent. I think it's an interesting survival mix of the plot and excitement of The Hunger Games and the relationship building and conflict in Lord of the Flies. The writing, however, was less than fantastic. It was basic and extremely repetitive. Yes, I do have to acknowledge that the author is only 12 years old, but unfortunately that's pretty obvious from the writing. Boyer uses the exact same phrases over and over within the same paragraph, and I'm pretty sure if one of the characters said "Wow!" one more time I would have thrown the book across the room. Boyer would have greatly benefited from the use of a thesaurus.

I was also really displeased with the ending. It ended as if there was going to be another book, but there was no clarity in the author's note or anything else as to when that is actually happening (although the Amazon page definitely says this is the first in a series). So many questions were left up in the air without any clarification. I hate finishing a book and not knowing what happens, especially if I don't know when I can anticipate the next installment. Island Games was still an interesting and fun story, but unfortunately just didn't live up to my expectations of good writing.


Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Thanks to Online Book Club for digital access to this novel! Island Games by Caleb J. Boyer is out now.

10 comments:

DJ Sakata said...

My mind instantly went to Lord of the Flies during the first paragraph, funny, I imagine it is a common conception.

Terrie Arasin said...

This sounds good for my son! I wonder if I can convince him to read it LOL

Nikki Saturday Nite Reader said...

Me too, DJ! I immediately thought of Lord of the Flies. Bummer that this book didn’t do it for you. Hope your next one is a 5 star!

Bewitched Reader Book Blog said...

When you mentioned the island having different environments my mind immediately when to The Hunger Games! I hope your next read is 5 stars!

Randi @ Kiss Like a Girl said...

This sounds like a book my nephew would love.

Heidi said...

Sounds like an intense and interesting book! Great review. :)

Whispering Stories said...

It started off so positive. Shame when it just doesn't work out.

Jo Linsdell said...

Sounds like a good book. Shame it wasn't for you.

Jordana Landsman said...

Love how some themes, and from a twelve-year-old, keep getting chewed and played by writers' imaginations. Swept Away, Gilligan's Island, Lifeboat, and Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies as mentioned... it's too bad the writing skill isn't there yet, but maybe this is a writer little brain for us to keep an eye on! Thanks!

Megan said...

I was caught right away by that cover. Very nice! The synopsis sounds like something I think I would enjoy, even as a middle grade. Great review :)

Megan @ Ginger Mom & the Kindle Quest