3 out of 4 stars
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The affinity towards electronics exhibited by kids in this era never ceases to amaze me. Up this to video/computer games and sky becomes the limit! My ten-year-old nephew, for example, is never bothered with reading the instructions on any computer game, instead, he just jumps right in! One or two false starts later, he begins to beat all of us in the house hands down, even though we had painstakingly studied the instructions! This seems to be a common trait in kids nowadays, thus it is no wonder that in Island Games, two boys who find themselves marooned on an island, with neither memory nor directions, jump right into overcoming life or death challenges that are almost computer-game-like!
Caleb J. Boyer became an avid reader at the very young age of four. At the age of twelve, he authored Island Games, the first of a series of adventure books. Caleb had learned through life circumstances that challenges and obstacles will always exist but favor and blessings come when one perseveres through those challenges and finds the strength to support, and be supported, by others. He infuses these life lessons and things he missed in other books into Island Games, to make it an immensely exciting adventure that reels the reader in right from the moment the two boys awake on the island. The two boys have to overcome challenges, whose rules they must learn on the go, in the jungle, prairie, desert, and highland (ice) conditions, each found in one of the four quadrants of the Island. How do these boys learn the ropes? Will they make it out of the island intact? Will they be able to confront whoever put them on the dangerous island? Read the book to find out.
The author’s writing style is articulate and conversational. The story is narrated in the third person, with humor and friendly banter. The reader can’t help rooting for the boys in this do or die race, gasping at their mishaps and near misses, and wondering with them what challenges will come next. Unfortunately, the author is elliptical throughout the book often suggesting decisions instead of having the two boys dialogue their opinions. For example on page 9 he states that ‘the boys weren’t afraid, they were hungry and had ideas of capturing the rooster and having a feast for breakfast…. instead, they decided to stick to their plan of getting to the cargo.’
I found it gratifying to watch the boys progress from a victim mentality to realizing they were not facing the challenges on the island to just survive, but the game was theirs to win. They started looking at the challenges as opportunities to grow stronger individually and collectively. I also enjoyed the straightforward plot and the reverberating themes throughout the story. These were teamwork, taking risks, using intuition and always moving forward. The story is a metaphor for life, in which to progress we need to experience the unknown, step past our fear and remain centered. We never know what tomorrow might bring, but we must always move forward, focus on our goal and live life to the fullest.
I didn’t like that at the conclusion of the story, a few questions still remained unanswered, even though the author stepped in to explain some of the lessons learned. The book had a number of grammatical mistakes most notably failure to use substantives in the possessive form. For example, page 114 talks of ‘quick thinking of Ryan’ instead of 'Ryan’s quick thinking.' However, these errors did not interfere with the flow of the story.
Due to the above reasons, I rate the book 3 out of 4 Stars, and would highly recommend it to teens who enjoy action-packed make-believe scenes and stories with an explanation of the moral lesson of the story, at the end.
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