3 out of 4 stars
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Island Games: Mystery of the Four Quadrants by Caleb J. Boyer is a fast-paced young adult novel that thrills and entertains. Island Games reads like Lost meets The Hunger Games with a strong focus on friendship, adventure, and perseverance.
Teenage best friends Matthew and Ryan awaken on a soaked beach with no memories and no means of escape. Stranded on a seemingly uninhabited island without supplies and unable to contact the outside word, the two soon find themselves thrown into a mysterious and dangerous game that challenges their skill, determination, and friendship. In order to survive, they must work together, and the two embark on a journey of self-discovery and growth.
Island Games was written by a 12-year-old boy after a family tragedy forced him to travel hours every day for years of his young life. The challenges he faced inspired him to create a story epitomizing exactly that: dogged resolve in the face of grave adversity. Teamwork, trust, positivity, and love become fundamental for survival. Island Games, like life, is about moving forward and facing challenges despite fear, insecurity, or confusion. The storyline briskly follows the protagonists through the four quadrants of the island, each area containing new surprises and attention-grabbing landscapes that test the ability and will of the protagonists.
Due to the age of the author, the writing style shows promise but is also simplistic and lacking in description. For example, the boys fight several creatures but, with one exception, we’re only told they’re “beasts” and little else. Perspective shifts from Matthew to Ryan and vice versa without any page breaks. Inner thoughts bounce between first person and third as well as between past tense and present. The dialogue is repetitive in that the characters often repeat what was described a paragraph before, sometimes using the same descriptive language.
While the author has room to improve, the style has a lot of potential. The opening scene of Matthew waking on the sandy shore of the island is eye-catching and compelling. The easiness of the style moves the story forward quickly and concisely. Darker elements are kept at bay by humor and friendly banter, such as when an animal attack leaves Ryan temporarily without pants. It’s fun, bite-sized, and charming.
Overall, I rate Island Games: Mystery of the Four Quadrants by Caleb J. Boyer 3 out of 4 stars. My biggest criticism is that the description is lacking, repetitive, and peppered with the occasional error, but taking the author’s age into account and the book’s demographic, these issues didn’t faze me enough to drop another star. It’s an exciting, adrenaline-boosting romp with a variety of scenery, trials, and humorous exchanges. The characters develop while still remaining consistent, and they clearly deliver the theme.
While enjoyable for people of all ages, I especially recommend Island Games to preteens and younger teens who enjoy humorous thrillers and action-packed adventures about friendship. Boyer’s book is clean and does not contain profanity, gore, or erotic scenes, but does contain scenes of non graphic violence. Those who do not like cliffhangers should wait until the next book is published.
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