Book Review: The Island (Olivia Levez)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Oneworld Publication

Pages: 288

Release Date: March 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Frances is alone on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. She has to find water and food. She has to survive. And when she is there she also thinks about the past. The things that she did before. The things that made her a monster. Nothing is easy. Survival is hard and so is being honest about the past. Frances is a survivor however, and with the help of the only other crash survivor, she sees that the future is worth fighting for.

The Island is a gripping and thoughtful story about a girl who didn’t ask to be the person she is but is also determined to make herself the person she wants to be.

Review:

I received a very early proof of this book and was very excited to read it. Olivia Levez and I have been following each other on Twitter for a while and we met at the Birmingham UKYAExtravaganza event, so when she asked if I would be interested in reading her book I was also a little nervous. I’m always really worried I won’t like it and then things will be awkward…

Luckily I loved this book so no awkward situations here! It’s told in very short chapters – in the A4 paper copy I read a lot of them were just a page long, which made it easy to dip in and out of it, and I never struggled to find a good place to put it down (not that I wanted to, because it was brill). The story flits between Frances’ current predicament, trapped alone on a deserted island, and flashes of her past as she cares for her younger brother and we learn the crime that led her to the island in the first place.

I struggled to connect with Frances a bit at first. She’s very prickly, and it’s not as easy to understand at first when you don’t know her background. When the plane first crashes and Frances floats to the island in a raft, I struggled to understand her behaviour – I know she’d been drinking, but surely you wouldn’t want to waste your precious few supplies.

I soon warmed up to Frances though and became really enthralled with her story of survival. For someone who has no skills in this area, she does pretty well for herself (but not in an unbelievable way either). It really is the ultimate survival story and I kept wondering what I would do in the same situation, how well I would cope and how long I would last.

The ending was frustrating but also perfect. I was worried that everything would get tied off too neatly: Frances would be rescued and reunited with her brother and everyone would live happily ever after. While I did want that for her, (she truly deserves it after everything!) it just didn’t feel right for the story. I prefer the bittersweet or not-quite-concluded endings, and that’s what you get here.

I really loved reading this book and I can’t wait for it to come out so everyone else can read it too (I’m writing this in November and the March publication date feels forever away!) I really hope the book gets the praise and readership it deserves.

4

If you enjoyed this, you might like Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine