This week’s Biblioshelf Musings are all about a YA Mystery/Thriller set in a beautiful Thai paradise! Think phobias, secrets, lies and intrigue – this book definitely kept me on my toes and turning page after page.
This is my first review since I can actually remember! To be honest, I wasn’t reading much towards the tail end of last year and even though my reading has picked back up again, I just haven’t been in the mood to really ‘review’ what I’ve been reading. The Island by C.L. Taylor was a Netgalley arc I received in October and read cover to cover within 2 days. It’s out tomorrow so I thought now would be the perfect time to upload and share my review. Huge thanks to NetGalley, C.L. Taylor and the publishers HQ for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Book: The Island by C.L. Taylor
Genre: YA / Mystery
Publication Date: January 21st 2020
Publisher: HQ Young Adult
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Welcome to The Island.
Where your worst fears are about to come true…
It was supposed to be the perfect holiday: a week-long trip for six teenage friends on a remote tropical island.
But when their guide dies of a stroke leaving them stranded, the trip of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare.
Because someone on the island knows each of the group’s worst fears. And one by one, they’re coming true.
Seven days in paradise. A deadly secret.
Who will make it off the island alive?
When I read that this book was like Lost meets The Hunger Games – I was sold! The beautiful Thai setting was the perfect world for me to escape into when I wanted a reprieve from the cold, wintery landscape outside. I could practically see the crystal blue waters and hear the macaques and jungle birds as they drifted through the trees.
Tropical paradise aside, it took me a little while to get to grips with who was who in the band of 6 main characters. The perspectives shift quite quickly which was a little confusing to start with but I soon got into the rhythm of it. The format definitely helped draw out the suspense because the actions and events were coming from changing viewpoints. It was tricky to decide which narrator/character was giving you the honest truth but that made me more invested in the story.
The Phobias each character had were a real plot driver to carry the story forward and reveal more clues about what was really going on compared to what was perceived to be going on. As each character had to face their phobia, you were able to whittle down who could possibly be the one behind all of the drama. Then particular events near the end have you not only questioning what you thought you knew already, but also questioning what you thought you had read. These little red herrings continue to mind-trick you into narrowing down the list of suspects and their motivations whilst also keeping you engrossed in the plot. It’s probably the setting and mystery that kept me turning the pages rather than the actual characters themselves.
References to grief, guilt and PTSD are dealt with sensitively in a way which doesn’t necessarily dive right into the traumatic heart of its core but still help to raise awareness of these conditions well enough for a teenage / YA audience.
In a way, The Island totally reminded me of Lord of the Flies in the sense that these friends are stuck on this beautiful island which seems to be filled with horrors caused by one of their own. It’s definitely the new Lord of the Flies for a modern YA generation. One thing which could be said about The Island is that it seemed (in my own mind) to be a bunch of fairly privileged teenagers on a paradise island almost bemoaning about their lot in life whilst at the same time struggling to reconnect with each other now that they’re getting older, growing apart and dealing with the aftermath of events which have led to mental health issues. If you’re looking for diversity and complex world-building then I’m not sure that this book will appeal to you, but if you’re looking for thrills, spills and a multi-layered mystery (with a hint of paradise!) then this modern day Lord of the Flies may be right up your street.
Why Should I Read This?
For a compelling mystery complete with shifting character perspectives and tropical island vibes.
For a dark, twisty set of phobias which come to life one by one.
For a layered plot filled with mind-tricks which will keep you flipping page after page.