The Island (M. A. Bennett)

The Island by M.A. Bennett
on January 1st 1970
Pages: 304
Goodreads

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 . . .

From the acclaimed author of S.T.A.G.S.

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★
Readability: ★★

I thought I would really enjoy The Island; a group of teens, stranded on a desert island, the bullied and the bullies forced together, no one knows where they are… The concept was great, and having enjoyed Bennett’s previous book (S.T.A.G.S.) I had expectations of a fast-paced, twisting YA thriller.  At only 304 pages, I figured it’d be a quick read, especially given that S.T.A.G.S. was so gripping. Ultimately though, I found The Island disappointing; it felt like a real slog to get into and it took me more than 2 weeks to finish.  I remember reading Lord of the Flies at about 16 and really enjoying it, and I figured this would be a bit like a modernised version of that.  While that was true in some respects, it just never hooked me the way I expected it to and it never got as tense as I expected.

Link has been bullied ever since moving to a posh British school, from having previously been homeschooled in the States.  He reluctantly agrees to go on a school trip over the summer but everything goes wrong and he finds himself stranded on a deserted island with the worst of his tormenters.  Link is quite an unlikable character: he has no real empathy or sympathy and he’s quite self-righteous.  He thinks he’s smarter than everyone else – there are some actions in the book which I’d say prove he isn’t half as smart as he thinks he is, but I can’t explain that without spoilers!  The other characters on the island are stereotypical to a fault and while Bennett tries to give them back-stories, have characters grow etc, it’s all just a bit too predictable.  In terms of plot, while there are twists, I thought they were so obviously foreshadowed that none of them were a surprise.

While the pop culture references seem like they could make the book date quickly, I really liked that the Desert Island Discs element was something a bit new and different so I couldn’t resist trying to come up with my own.

My Desert Island Discs: Honestly, I could spend weeks picking these, so I just went on gut instinct. They’re not in any particular order.

  • Linkin Park: One More Light & In the End
  • Moana: How Far I’ll Go
  • The Greatest Showman: The Other Side
  • Nashville: When the Right One Comes Along
  • Mulan: I’ll Make a Man Out of You
  • Blink-182: I Miss You
  • Ed Sheeran: Perfect

My book:

  • Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince.
    • This was the hardest decision and I’m still not sure it’s right: should I pick something longer that’ll take ages to read? But this is my go-to re-read. In a slump? HP6. Sad and want something comforting? HP6. Plus, it’d be good for fanfic ideas which might help keep me entertained and ties into my luxury item…

My luxury item:

  • Pen & paper – I’m hoping it’s an endless supply of paper. I could write letters to people I loved and missed (obviously I couldn’t send them but I think it’d make me less crazy to remember there are other people in the world!), I could write fiction/fanfiction/poetry/journal entries, I could doodle, I could make observations on plants/wildlife etc.
One StarOne Star

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