Review by Arrigo_Lupori -- Island Games by Caleb J. Boyer

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Arrigo_Lupori
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Review by Arrigo_Lupori -- Island Games by Caleb J. Boyer

Post by Arrigo_Lupori » 08 Feb 2018, 15:03

[Following is a volunteer review of "Island Games" by Caleb J. Boyer.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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Island Games is a work of fiction written by Caleb J. Boyer.

The book follows the unlikely adventures of two boys named Matthew and Ryan, who have been placed on a mysterious island to conquer their fears, not knowing how or by whom and not remembering of any circumstance that brought them to these shores. The story develops as the two young boys learn about the island and as they try to make sense of their surroundings. They will face tremendous challenges along their paths and they’ll also bond in ways that they did not think possible.

The book is well written, if not rather “simple” to read, which in this case is not a bad thing. I say “simple” because the vocabulary is very juvenile, which is understandable when a book is written by a (talented) twelve year old and it's targeted at other teenagers. As the main characters say: “We're just two teenage boys after all!”. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear from adults who have enjoyed reading this book though, since the story is gripping and the structure is fun. However, the book feels unpolished at times, where explanations feel rushed and details are lost in trying to bring the story forward.

Also, the juvenile aspects of the book can sometimes result to be somewhat unsettling, since many passages feel fairly unimaginative if we consider the grander scheme of things. Some of the events that occur in the story feel very familiar to the typical “adventure” story, where things crumble to pieces and middle grounds between safety and destruction hardly ever exist, if not for the moments where our heroes recover, often talking and joking about their day.

With that said, Island Games is a good book, to be read by the younger generations. The book wants to install some kind of awareness that is hardly to be found in a boy's mindset, where challenges in life are seen as a barrier to overcome, to then appreciate what lies beyond. While I applaud the attempt, I did not find the result to be all that moving. Yes, there are ways to extrapolate some actual lessons out of the stories that are told, but I didn’t consider them to be ground-breaking, if not for a few surprising sentences near the end of the book that astonished me, thinking about the author’s age.

It was tough for me to give this book a score: I wanted it to lie somewhere in the middle, between two and three stars, but the official rating does not allow for such a thing. I shall therefore rate this book 2 out of 4 stars.

I thought about the rating in these terms: the book is fun and gripping, for which it deserves a lot. However, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that something was missing for the entire read. I thought about gravitating towards three stars to compliment the effort, but I figured that there was still room for improvement for an author that will most likely have a brilliant career, if he keeps working on his craft the way he has done so far.

I hope this will be seen as one of the many challenges that Ryan and Matthew will have to overcome and not as a drawback, dragging both characters down into quicksand. I noticed a few errors throughout the book, but they were all typos and they amounted to just six instances, which did not detract from the reading experience. Grammar was good.

******
Island Games
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Post by kandscreeley » 15 Feb 2018, 08:23

I'm sorry you didn't like this one as much. I thought it was a fun story perfect for the target age group. But that's why there are so many different stories out there. To each his (or her) own.
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Post by Arrigo_Lupori » 15 Feb 2018, 09:07

kandscreeley wrote:
15 Feb 2018, 08:23
I'm sorry you didn't like this one as much. I thought it was a fun story perfect for the target age group. But that's why there are so many different stories out there. To each his (or her) own.
It's not really that I didn't like it. I did enjoy the reading experience, I thought it was quite amusing, but at the same time, although I knew that the author was very very young, I found very few passages to be compelling overtime, essentially making me feel as if the same things would happen over and over in a cycle until the solution was ultimately discovered. In fact, I enjoyed the first half of the book more than I did with the second half. Also, I thought that the situations could be more descriptive. I applaud the author however, it's not easy to publish a book like Island Games at the age of twelve. That is indeed awesome.

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Post by Sarah Tariq » 15 Feb 2018, 12:45

The story of this book would inspire many young adults as the two boys pass through many unknown adventure. Sorry for not liking this story. Thanks for this critical review. If you like, you can check out my review.
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Post by CommMayo » 16 Feb 2018, 11:16

It seems that you aren't alone in trying to give this novel a fair rating. At least you are in good company!

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Post by Arrigo_Lupori » 17 Feb 2018, 15:06

Sarah Tariq wrote:
15 Feb 2018, 12:45
The story of this book would inspire many young adults as the two boys pass through many unknown adventure. Sorry for not liking this story. Thanks for this critical review. If you like, you can check out my review.
I will swing by to check your review :D
CommMayo wrote:
16 Feb 2018, 11:16
It seems that you aren't alone in trying to give this novel a fair rating. At least you are in good company!
Have you written a review on it as well? Yes, I definitely did not want to give it a high rating because I believe that, however young the author may be, what if I give this book 4 out of 4 and then say, I give Siddhartha a 4 out of 4 as well? The two books are in no way or shape comparable to each other, although one has to take into consideration the age group as well. I understand that a children's book can't and shouldn't be compared with proper literature, so I went for a middle ground here.
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Post by CommMayo » 17 Feb 2018, 16:01

I haven't reviewed this book. Knowing the target audience really is important to giving a proper review/rating. I keep ending up with really oddball books to review...which always pose quite the challenge. I ended up with a audiobook about a guy who lives in the swamp and sings stories about the animals. I included a Youtube clip in the replies to the review. I couldn't figure out who the collection was aimed at, so it was really hard to review Swampwise. You might get a kick out of my struggles!

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Post by AbbyGNelson » 19 Feb 2018, 11:27

Sarah Tariq wrote:
15 Feb 2018, 12:45
The story of this book would inspire many young adults as the two boys pass through many unknown adventure. Sorry for not liking this story. Thanks for this critical review. If you like, you can check out my review.
I wrote a review too! I feel like everyone has read this book, which really helps with growing a conversation around it. But I agree with Arrigo's review, and I reviewed it at 2 stars as well. I feel that it leaves a lot to be wanted for the reader.

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Post by Arrigo_Lupori » 19 Feb 2018, 12:25

AbbyGNelson wrote:
19 Feb 2018, 11:27
I wrote a review too! I feel like everyone has read this book, which really helps with growing a conversation around it. But I agree with Arrigo's review, and I reviewed it at 2 stars as well. I feel that it leaves a lot to be wanted for the reader.
It does seem like the book has been read by many many people, which is itself an achievement for the young author.
"The abstract sensation of living a lifestyle that hasn't been fully understood."
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Post by kfwilson6 » 06 Mar 2018, 17:40

Arrigo_Lupori wrote:
15 Feb 2018, 09:07
kandscreeley wrote:
15 Feb 2018, 08:23
I'm sorry you didn't like this one as much. I thought it was a fun story perfect for the target age group. But that's why there are so many different stories out there. To each his (or her) own.
It's not really that I didn't like it. I did enjoy the reading experience, I thought it was quite amusing, but at the same time, although I knew that the author was very very young, I found very few passages to be compelling overtime, essentially making me feel as if the same things would happen over and over in a cycle until the solution was ultimately discovered. In fact, I enjoyed the first half of the book more than I did with the second half. Also, I thought that the situations could be more descriptive. I applaud the author however, it's not easy to publish a book like Island Games at the age of twelve. That is indeed awesome.
I have a very similar feeling. I enjoyed it, but felt like it just wasn't ENOUGH. With every challenge the boys faced, I felt like I had read the same scenario before. It was hard not to give Boyer credit for what he accomplished at such a young age, and I do think someone closer in age to him would enjoy it more than I did, but I have read many books marketed to his same target audience and I was much more interested in them. I could not simply say, "this is a 4 out of 4 because he is 12," I had to consider it in the grand scheme of everything else I've read and my overall expectations for any book. I applaud him, but with time, his writing could be worth of 4 stars. This one just is not on par with other books I would give a top rating.

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