3 out of 4 stars
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Caleb J. Boyer's Island Games is a young adult novel that chronicles the adventure of two best friends as they work to escape a perilous island. Matthew and Ryan awaken one morning upon a sandy beach, their memories wiped and all clues to their identities missing. Quickly the boys realize that they have become unwilling players in a deadly game of survival, and only together can they overcome the challenges ahead and solve the mystery of the island.
Filled with intrigue and action, Island Games is a captivating book that sustains the reader's interest from beginning to end. The pace of this book is perfect, never becoming tedious or moving so quickly that the reader becomes lost. The plot is solid, and the chain of events unfold in a logical manner, giving the otherwise fantastic setting a tinge of reality.
Ryan and Matthew are believable representations of teenage boys, and I could easily picture many of their interactions in my mind. While they are not what most readers would consider particularly in-depth characters, they do have distinct personalities, and I believe that most teen and pre-teen boys would be able to relate to them on some level. Given the ever-present danger of the island, and the fact that both boys are suffering from amnesia, there isn't much room for introspection in this story. However, both boys do learn and grow from their shared experiences.
As for the quality of the writing, I would say that it has "good bones." The author clearly has a great deal of natural talent, but there were just enough errors for me to believe that this book was not professionally edited. The most obvious errors were in the form of run-on sentences, which were also my least favorite aspect of the book. Much of the story was well-written, which unfortunately made those occasional run-on sentences more obvious.
My favorite aspect of the book was the plot itself, and specifically how smoothly the events unfolded. Once again, I must say that the pacing of this book was spot-on, and there truly was never a dull moment. Caleb J. Boyer is a promising young author, and I look forward to reading his future works.
For its originality and great plot, I award Island Games 3 out of 4 stars. I would recommend this book primarily to boys between the ages of 10-14 years, although anyone who likes a good adventure story would enjoy it.
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