ARC Review: The Castaways

The CastawaysThe Castaways by Jessika Fleck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Release date: April 3, 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.

The Castaways is about a group of teens from different times trapped together on an island where time doesn’t move forward. Basically, it is like Neverland and they are the Peter Pans, in a Lord of the Flies situation. You see, there are TWO group of teens on the island and they are both at war with each other. Olive tumbles into this island when she is running from her bullies at the Castaway Carnival’s infamous corn maze (in which children have vanished), and is rescued by one of the group – the Lions, led by Will. The others, the Panthers, are led by Duke, and some rivalry from their time has been carried over to here, making the island a warzone.

The kids are of course trying to figure out a way to get back home, but they are also all sort of happy here. All of them were running from something back home, and this island is a new life and a new start for most of them. However, the island is also dangerous in the sense that they have to live off the land, and all, in the middle of the fighting. Olive, the new person at the party, wants to figure out how to resolve this years-long war between the two, that has claimed multiple lives. In doing so, she faces her own fears, and makes others realize theirs too.

I would caution readers from the abuse present at the start of the book – Olive is brutally bullied by her classmates on more than one occasion, and the scenes may be triggering to some. Same for Duke’s story about his days back at home. About the bullying, it may provide solace to some kids to learn that it is okay to be yourself, as the book points out. And that you can’t run from your problems but have to face them. The writing is pretty good, and Olive’s voice is brought out splendidly as a placid person with bouts of humor. There are some cliches, though, which kind of dampened my enjoyment of the book – like the almost insta-lovey way Will and Olive fall for each other, his regularly-piercing eyes/gaze *eyeroll*. The ending also seemed sort of easy to wrap up, but I’ll take it from a standalone. Overall, an interesting book to read, for sure.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Entangled Teen, via Netgalley.

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