Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for providing and eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
Synopsis: The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous.
Renowned for it’s infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it.
When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing.
Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will–their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader–steals hers.
Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home.
The Castaways is a clever novel that is a combination of Mean Girls and Lord of the Flies. As the story begins, Olive Maxi Gagmuehler is being tormented by three high school classmates. A couple of the things they do to her are definitely cringe-worthy, so beware. Everything comes to a head one night when after being once again attacked, at a carnival, Olive runs into a corn maze and suddenly finds herself trapped on an island with teens from different time periods. the only thing they have in common is they were all running away from something or someone, when they landed n this mysterious island. Olive is someone that many teens will relate to, especially if they’re victims of bullying. While she’s clearly terrified of her attackers, she also fights back against her tormenters. Once she’s on The Island, it quickly becomes apparent that this is no oasis of safety. While the teens and two young children in her group are for the most part welcoming, there’s another group that seems determined to wipe them out. But one of the best parts about this story is that nothing and no one is what they seem. Olive is the one constant, and she not only becomes the catalyst for change on the Island, but she goes through a journey of self-discovery that leaves her a stronger person by the end of the book. There were a couple of things that prevented this from being a perfect read for me. While I liked Will, Olive’s love interest, I never really bought into their romance for some reason. I’m not sure if it was just me, but there just didn’t seem to be any sparks. It almost seemed like they were forced together because of the circumstances, rather than there being real emotion behind their relationship. And, there were a couple of plot holes, particularly in regards to Olive’s tormenters that weren’t filled in enough for me. For the most part though, I thought The Castaways was imaginative and unique. It also does a good job at tackling the subject of bullying and sends a strong message that running away is never a positive solution to solving problems. It’s a book that should hold wide appeal for teens and I think it would also make an excellent selection for book discussion groups.