Review of The Island by M.A. Bennett

Read: 15th May 2018 – 18th May 2018

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Spoilers in review: Mild

Link is a victim of bullying, and desperately wants to leave school to get away from it. His parents say that he can, so long as he goes on a school summer trip that’s already been paid for. However, he and his classmates wake up alone on a desert island, their plane apparently having crashed there. Not only do they now need to try and survive, but Link is determined not to be at the bottom of the pecking order anymore.

I was rolling my eyes at Link from first few pages. Liking pop culture, such as Star Wars, isn’t unusual. It never has been. And it’s certainly not what gets people bullied. He might’ve had a case if he’d tried to talk to people about it, and his enthusiasm got him ostracised (something I have personal experience with) but that’s not what happened. The bullying stemmed from something else entirely. The protagonist being wrong about something like this isn’t necessarily an issue, but I couldn’t not point it out.

Throughout most of the book, Link is deeply unlikable. This isn’t a criticism. He makes choices that hurt other people, for no reason other than that he wants to be the one in power, and it was interesting to read. I liked the point that this makes, and that another character points out, that being a victim doesn’t mean you’re a good person. Similarly, I liked that it made the (still clear, but not as explicitly stated) point that nobody deserves to be bullied, for any reason. My one issue with Link’s character in this regard is that his realisation that he’d been acting terribly happened far too quickly. It’s not an exaggeration to say that he woke up one day knowing he’d done wrong and had to change. I’d have hoped for this to be more drawn out.

Homophobic slurs are used on multiple occasions in this book. They’re condemned, but they’re there, and they aren’t used in a reclaiming context. I wasn’t particularly happy to read them, so be aware if that’s something that would bother you as well.

I’d figured out the twist pretty much from the start, but that kind of thing doesn’t bother me at all. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story in any way.

That epilogue has to go. I’m sorry, but I really didn’t like it. If it hadn’t been there (and if the main bulk of the novel had ended slightly differently) I would’ve rated this 4 stars, rather than 3. Hopefully it’ll be removed from the published version.

I love Bennett’s writing style! It’s really engaging, and it kept me interested throughout. Most of my rating comes from her writing style, as it made sure that I enjoyed reading this book. I also really liked how the characters had grown by the end. They’d all stopped pretending, and were working together, and understanding each other, and I really appreciated that.

This was an enjoyable read. Based on its exploration of bullying alone, I’d recommend it.

I received an e-arc through Netgalley in return for an honest review. Quotes may differ in the published version.

Review originally written in 2018

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