Happy MMGM Monday, guys!
I'm a big fan of shipwreck stories - I read The Swiss Family Robinson when I was ten - so I knew I was going to love Shipwreck Island.
Fortunately for me, Macmillan kindly sent me ARC and I absolutely loved this story from beginning to end. It's an epic adventure story, with just a hint of a Lost, and I think you guys will absolutely love it too!
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published July 29th 2014 by Feiwel & Friends
Format read: Physical ARC via publisher
Synopsis via publisher:
Sarah’s dad and stepmom then decide to take the whole family on a special vacation in order to break the ice and have everyone get to know one another. They’ll fly to Tahiti, charter a boat, and go sailing for a few days. It’ll be an adventure, right?
Wrong. Dead wrong.
Shipwreck Island is the first installment in a series from S.A. Bodeen.
Shipwreck Island introduces us to Sarah, a young teenaged girl who is seriously annoyed with her dad's life choices. He has recently remarried, and now he and his new wife are cheerfully (and obliviously) expecting Sarah and her two new stepbrothers to become a blended family.
As a part of that effort, Sarah's dad and new stepmother decide to take them on a family bonding trip to Fiji. The trip is supposed to take take them island-hopping across five islands, but an unexpected storm while they're at sea quickly changes everything…
From the first page of Shipwreck Island, S.A. Bodeen does a great job setting up the initial confusion and frustration felt by all of the younger members of the Robinson/Murillo family, as they adjust to the sudden, whirlwind changes that have occurred in their lives. There's a definite feeling of claustrophobia to the new family living arrangements, and readers will definitely understand just why Sarah's dad and Marco's mom are so insistent about getting them out of their home and on the road to bond.
After the new family members get on the road, Bodeen continues to set the tone for domestic conflict and general family dysfunction. Through subtle moments like Sarah's absolute disgust in realizing that her father and stepmother now share a bank account, or her gentle ribbing of Marco for having never read a popular book series, Bodeen helps readers realize just how normal the family is, and how unexpected their circumstances are about to become.
(Though it might be a little premature to say so, I also think there's an argument to be made that this is a great way of emphasizing just how ordinary people can do extraordinary things in difficult times - a la The Swiss Family Robinson.)
After the family lands on the island, Bodeen intermixes just the right amount of curiosity and creepy into their new surroundings. Without giving anything away, I think Bodeen has created the type of mysterious situation that will absolutely have readers wondering just where this series is going to go.
While the book is relatively short at 192 pages, Bodeen definitely creates just the right balance of family drama and mystery that will keep readers thinking and wondering, long after they've closed the book.
Of special note for educators and parents: Shipwreck Island is a great book for reluctant readers. Not only is it incredibly engaging and atmospheric, Bodeen has even made it a point to include a character who initially doesn't like to read, but later finds out it's not that bad. If there's one book that you'll want to get a reluctant reader to jumpstart them for the school year, it should be this one.
This a series that is part Swiss Family Robinson and part Island of Dr. Moreau, and it all adds up to S.A. Bodeen fully winning me over as a new fan. I can't wait to see what kind of creepy mysteries that Sarah and her family have stumbled onto, and which direction this series will eventually be headed.
I highly recommend this book for readers who are already fans of S.A. Bodeen, but also for fans of urban fantasy and urban mysteries. Shipwreck Island has all the markings of a series that will mix contemporary settings with scientific marvels, and I think that anyone who likes those genres will high enjoy this book - particularly reluctant readers.
I also recommend this book for fans of Dan Wells, Neal Schusterman and Eric Elfman.