4 out of 4 stars
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I've read many books in my lifetime, and it's rare anymore that a book genuinely surprises me. Island Games by Caleb Boyer was one such novel. Why, you might ask? Let me tell you. Caleb Boyer was twelve years old when he wrote this story.
When I was in middle school, my language arts teacher assigned us creative writing. I can tell you for sure that my stories were nothing that I would have shared with the world much less published. Caleb Boyer, however, has done a fabulous job with his publication.
Matthew and Ryan are best friends who suddenly find themselves stranded on a deserted island. Having no memory of their past, they must find food, water and a way off the island. That isn't quite as easy as it sounds, though, as challenges keep coming their way. The first challenge they face is retrieving food from a boat without being eaten by a shark. Unfortunately, the challenges only get harder from there, and the two friends must work together or die.
Island Games is classified as young adult and would be very appropriate for preteens aged approximately 10 to 14. There is some violence that comes with the challenges the two boys face, but it is never graphic or disturbing. There is also no foul language or sexual situations throughout the book. The vocabulary used within the novel is age appropriate with the hardest words perhaps being quadrant or ravine.
The story line is simple, but the plot is engaging. I found myself forging ahead with every word wondering what challenges Ryan and Matthew would face next. While the writing is simple, the action and plot are captivating enough to hold even an adult's attention (after all, I enjoyed it.)
One of the few drawbacks to the novel is the cliffhanger ending. However, this was purposefully done. There is a message from the author at the end of the story explaining why the book ends as it did. I believe that there is a lot to be learned from the story and the ending. Therefore, I really can't count the cliffhanger against the book as I normally would; it's not a device used to sell the next novel but a teaching point.
Other than that, there were only a few minor issues that I noticed. While the grammar was impeccable (I didn't find ANY errors in the story), I did notice that the author switches from first person to third person in the thoughts of the characters about halfway through the book. This was more of an observation than an annoyance as it didn't bother me. I also wished we had been given the ages of the two main characters as it isn't very clear. Once again, this wasn't a big problem but rather a fleeting thought.
Overall, my rating for Island Games is 4 out of 4 stars. I enjoyed the development of the plot and had very few issues with the story. I know that preteens will enjoy this read if they like an adventurous fiction. I would even recommend it to adults if they are looking for an easy, fun and quick story.
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