4 out of 5 stars
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Island Games: Mystery of the Four Quadrants is a young adult adventure book by Caleb J. Boyer. The story takes place on a deserted island. Two teenage boys woke up on a sandy shore. But they didn’t know where they were or how they got there. Matthew and Ryan were best friends who loved playing video games. But that is all that Ryan could remember from his past. Was this a bad dream? Had they been kidnapped? They swam to a rusty, old cargo boat, hoping to find water, food, and anything that could help them survive. Ryan almost got eaten by a shark getting in the boat, but Matthew rescued him. On the cargo boat, they found two backpacks filled with enough food, water, and emergency supplies for two people. At this point, the boys wondered if they were on a reality show with hidden cameras. Why would two backpacks be filled with the exact things they needed for survival on this island? Matthew shouted, “You can’t break us! Let the games begin!” And they did. Each day, Ryan and Matthew faced demanding tasks. Eventually, they learned that they had to work together to beat the complex challenges, which rewarded them with food packets and water. They built fires and found shelter. They traveled to different quadrants of the island and had to face terrible beasts, life-threatening traps, and adverse weather conditions. Would they be able to figure out each “game” and get off of this strange, dangerous island? Were people watching them? Who was in control?
I liked several aspects of the book. First, I enjoyed the fast pace of the story. Right from the beginning, the boys were constantly on the move. Each day brought perilous adventures for them to overcome. They escaped a deep chasm in the earth, lava pits, and a collapsing ice cave, to name a few. Second, I admired the author’s imagination. He created a land beast that was part bull and part lion that bled green goo. He also invented giant water beasts that had mouths filled with sharp teeth. Third, I felt inspired by the lessons Ryan and Matthew learned throughout the book. Matthew learned to focus on a goal and commit to it. He learned to stay calm and centered amidst any obstacle. Ryan learned to lean on his friend for support instead of trying to accomplish everything alone. He also realized that he should be thankful for what he had instead of coveting the belongings of others. Together, the boys learned the importance of teamwork and perseverance.
When I first started reading the book, I did not like the simplistic writing style, repetitive vocabulary, and immature dialogue. For example, some words were repeatedly used, such as creepy, exhausted, and girlfriend. On page 51, when the boys see the lovely flowers spread across the jungle floor, Ryan yells, “Wow! The whole ground looks like a unicorn farted rainbow flowers all over it. This is so amazing, I almost peed my pants!” Later, on page 204, Ryan spots one of the beasts and exclaims, “Dude! That thing was so ugly it makes me want to barf just looking at it.” But then I discovered that the author was only twelve years old when he wrote the book! My disapproval quickly turned into admiration. I was amazed that a twelve-year-old had written this 224-page novel, but it all made much more sense. However, I was disappointed with the abrupt ending of the book. It left so many unanswered questions. The author addressed this issue in a message after the end of the story, but I was left feeling unsatisfied.
I give this book a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. The characters were relatable. The plot was eventful. A professional edited the text because I only discovered two spelling errors. However, the text included repetitive language and behavior, and I felt disgruntled with the ending. As the author gains more experience, he will develop his vocabulary and writing technique.
I recommend this book to preteens and younger teens who are fans of action, adventure, and mystery. It is a terrific story about friendship, and the humor will appeal to adolescents. The lessons learned throughout the story could benefit all readers. Caleb J. Boyer has a bright future as an author!
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