2 out of 4 stars
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Island Games: Mystery of the Four Quadrants by Caleb J. Boyer takes the reader to an isolated island with two friends simply trying to survive. Ryan and Matthew have been best friends since kindergarten but they must rely on each other more than never when they wake up on an island with a volcano looming above them.
Ryan and Matthew have been placed on an island by forces that are unknown to them or the reader. The story runs like a video game. The boys go from challenge to challenge and are met with rewards upon success. Teamwork is a constant theme in this novel. Ryan and Matthew must work together to overcome challenging hurdles. Every time the boys solve a problem, save each other’s lives, or work together to survive they receive food and water. The boys begin to see their time on this island as an adventure. Though the boys are facing life-threatening issues, their courage and friendship never diminish.
I love the premise of this story. Two friends trapped on an island trying to solve a mystery sounds like pure excitement. However, this story lacks suspense and engagement. The boys’ qualities are so similar it is hard to decipher the difference. The author describes Ryan and Matthew’s image and personality close to the beginning of the story, but those descriptions don’t match their actions or words at all. The author has set themselves up beautifully to have an all-powerful evil person or company controlling these boys’ lives, but it never comes to fruition. Boyer leaves the mystery unsolved or up to reader interpretation. I wish the author developed the protagonist to allow more depth and excitement into the story. Ryan and Matthew share a sarcastic and humourous banter throughout the story. However, the same joke or comment is used constantly. This repetition of jokes causes the humour to become annoying and distracting to the reader.
Boyer is an incredibly young author. This young man is wildly successful in his short life and completion of a solid book is no small feat. He has created a premise that could be wildly engaging. However, the repetitive jokes and lack of plot development force me to rate this Island Games: Mystery of the Four Quadrants 2 out of 4 stars. The book is edited effectively. I found only 1 spelling mistake and it did not distract from the meaning of the text. I look forward to reading Boyer's future work as he develops as a writer.
I recommend this book to readers aged 7-12. The humour and themes could be fun for a younger audience.
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