4 out of 4 stars
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What would you do if you woke up one day on the beach of an unfamiliar island with no recollection of how you got there, and why? In fact, all you really do know at this point, is that you are physically weak and incredibly thirsty, and that your best friend since kindergarten is lying unconscious a little further down the shore from you. Well, this is just the situation in which Matthew finds himself one fateful day in the action and adventure fantasy novel, Island Games: Mystery of the Four Quadrants.
Author Caleb J. Boyer spins for us a fast-paced and exciting tale that follows two teenagers after they wake up one day on a mysterious island with no food and water, and no idea how to get back home - or even where home actually is. With no real memories beyond that of each other, Matthew and Ryan soon realize that they will need to rely on each other and work together if they have any hopes of survival.
The two boys find themselves facing challenge after challenge, with little time in between for rest. Each challenge, when successfully completed, brings the reward of food packets and water, but only enough to last until the next challenge. To make things even more difficult, the two best friends are also being transported to different quadrants within the island. These four quadrants differ in terrains ranging from the jungle to the prairie, and from the desert to the frozen highlands. Each quadrant has its own unique difficulties for the boys to overcome, testing not only their skills and strength, but also their very friendship.
I find this book’s plot to be both engaging and unique. I really enjoy the way it develops. The author successfully holds my attention when describing each of the challenges faced by Matthew and Ryan. It is easy to keep reading in order to find out just how the two boys are able to handle themselves and each new situation.
The two biggest themes within the novel, friendship and survival, are relevant to the book’s genre. Having been classified as a young adult novel, I find that the language and level of violence associated with the challenges to be suitable for the intended audience. The writing style can be simplistic at times, but again, this novel is geared toward younger readers. The descriptions, however, are quite vivid and well worded. It is not hard to envision the dry desert, feel the biting cold of the highlands, or taste the salty ocean water.
Island Games really is an enjoyable read. It has been well edited, and the storyline flows smoothly from beginning to end. I have no problems rating this book 4 out of 4 stars. While some readers may not enjoy the cliffhanger ending, I am not personally bothered by it. I do not think the ending is a ploy to sell the next book, like most cliffhangers can be. Instead, it is a tool the author uses as a teaching moment - a chance to pass along an important message. Honestly, I would have liked to know the exact ages of Matthew and Ryan. However, not knowing does not take away from the novel or from my enjoyment.
I recommend Island Games to preteens who enjoy a good adventure story. Really, anyone looking for a fun, quick, and refreshing read, regardless of age, should give this book a try. Even adults can find enjoyment in this story of adventure and friendship.
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