By: Jessika Fleck
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2017
The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous.
Renowned for its 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.
For some reason, I’m a sucker for teens stuck on an island trope. Not in the Lord of the Flies dead pigs and mob mentality sense, but more whatever that TV show was with the plane crash and a bunch of teens on an island that was on Discovery Kids back in the mid 2000’s? I think a kid from High School Musical was on it.
Olive Maxi Gagmuehler would say her name is the root of all her problems. And she wouldn’t be wrong. Having a name that one can manipulate into innumerable prepubescent jokes will certainly follow you through school and attract bullies. But Olive’s mean girls tend to be a little worse than most, and after fighting back for once, Olive has a larger target on her back. It comes to a head at the Castaway Carnival, a travelling theme park with a history of disappearing children, where Olive is chased into the corn maze that has a habit of eating kids that are running from problems and then spitting them out on a deserted island where they have the chance to work out their issues while fighting for their lives and dodging coconut bombs. Because the universe is nice that way.
Jokes aside, Jessika weaves a story with relatable teens (and lovable little kids) in a rich setting. The island location is vivid, from the treehouse to the mountain, with a cast that has not only figured out how to live day to day, but has built a found family. Among my loves were Tilly, giving Olive a girl her age to interact with, and Bug and Charlie as they are too cute. Then there is complicated Will, of course. The leader and older brother figure, and Olive’s lovely love interest. These are characters you care about: you wonder why they are there, where they came from, what they are doing. The mythology of the island was just as enthralling as the characters, the fact that these kids were pulled from a nonlinear timeline and the reasons that certain kids were pulled, out of the many that have such problems, was something that I wish was explored more.
Despite wishing for a little more regarding the island, The Castaways was entertaining, fast paced, and intriguing with a little swoon. Just the way I like my books.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. An advanced copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.