Book Review: The Island, Book One: Shipwreck

Cover of "Shipwreck (Island, Book 1)"
Cover of Shipwreck (Island, Book 1)

Luke, Will, Lyssa, J.J., Charla, and Ian are six kids with very different reasons for being forced into Charting a New Course, a program that promises to turn troubled kids around through hard work and teamwork.  CNC works by putting the kids on a small ship called the Phoenix with only Captain Cascadden and first mate Mr. Radford for company.  Trapped on board the Phoenix with no way off until they return to land at the end of the program, the kids try to work together and reveal the various reasons why they were forced into CNC:

Luke was wrongfully accused of storing an illegal firearm in his locker at school.

Will and Lyssa were in a constant state of sibling warfare.  When they ended up in the hospital, their parents decided that they needed to learn to work together.

J.J. is the spoiled son of a famous actor who grew tired of living in his father’s shadow– and devised dangerous stunts to gain his father’s attention.

Charla is a star athlete who trains furiously for a chance at going to the Olympics– but when she suffers a case of burnout, her father thinks it’s time for a change.

Young Ian’s crime is the saddest: He’s a loner who prefers to watch the Discovery Channel and surf the Internet than spend time with kids his own age.  His parents think that CNC will help him find friends his own age.

Captain Cascadden is nice enough to the kids, but Mr. Radford doesn’t like them and doesn’t care who knows it.  Behind his back, the kids call him Rat-face, and try their best to stay out of his way, which is hard on a small ship like the Phoenix.

Then the storm hits.  With Captain Cascadden’s skill and a little luck, they might have made it through the storm with minimal damage.  But then J.J. panics and makes a stupid mistake that washes Captain Cascadden overboard and ruins the engine and most of their food supplies.

And just when things can’t get worse, Mr. Radford deserts them.  Even with their unique talents, how can they survive?

The Island trilogy is a very readable, semi-exciting, semi-predictable thriller series for kids that reminds me of the Lost In Blue series of DS games.  In fact, the similarities between them was the reason I read the Island trilogy.  And they are very similar.  (Except, you know, in Shipwreck the main characters are kids, not teens, and there are six of them instead of two.  And the island in the Island series is inhospitable, while the island in LIB is nice enough that I wonder why the characters wanted to leave.  And one is a series of books, but the other is a series of games.  But I digress.)

Anyway, the main plot is the same, where the main characters’ ship gets wrecked and they end up on an island, where they must survive until they manage to escape.

But in reference the Shipwreck, I have one word:


Cliffhangers (along with an overly passive voice, dull characters, and flat plotlines), are one of my pet peeves.  I simply despise it when the author feels that, to entice us to buy the next book in the series (or at the very least, borrow it from the library) they must end the story unfinished.

I suppose you could say the Gordon Korman did end the first story arc of the story by having the kids wash up on the island, but the main concern of the novel– Will they be rescued– remains unanswered.  Which disappointed me to the point of almost not reading the next two books, Survival and Escape.  And if I didn’t have my intense desire to know what in the name of pie happened, I wouldn’t have read them.  (And the fact that I kinda read them before I read Shipwreck may have had something to do with it, too.)


If you are still here after my rant, I’d say that if you can withstand the horror known as cliffhangers, go ahead and read the Island trilogy.  If you can’t (or just dislike them as much as I do) but still enjoy a good adventure tale, buy (or borrow) all three at once and read them together, like they are just different chapters in the same book.  It’s up to you, but whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy what you choose to read.


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