1 Desert Island.
Island is a three-part, young adult novel by Gordon Korman. It is, essentially, a survival tale, as was the rage at the publishing date of 2001. But the beauty of the Island series is there is depth aside from the generic survival, Lord of the Flies throwback. These six kids all have detailed backgrounds, a unique reason for being stranded, and a story on the island that possesses great momentum. The books may be short, and the writing not as mature as many enjoy, but the story is unique and fantastic.
The story opens with six kids being sent to spend time on the schooner Phoenix. These six kids all have backgrounds that forced them to need refining and redirection and their parents, or judges in some cases, think this Charting A New Course (CNC), was the perfect program. The results could not have been more drastic. Adventure on boats, water, and islands complete with fights, fires, death, criminals, and even a very large explosive, Island, surprisingly enough, delivers.
This series was such a success in both schools and homes for Mr. Korman he has since written Everest and Dive in the same setup, three book series, that were just as, if not more successful in the case of Everest.
Luke Haggerty: All the kids are teenagers and are followed in the tale, yet Luke is setup as the main character if there is any specific one. Luke is here after a violent episode and a trial. Basically evolves as the alpha male, but not without confrontation of course.
Charla Swann: Slightly underdeveloped character but we do learn she is quite the athlete. Basically the supporting female character to balance out the cast.
Ian Sikorsky: Ian is a great young boy. Ian is very intelligent but has the quiet, geek archetype pushing to the front. As the three books progress he seriously comes out of his shell and takes some great initiative.
Will Greenfield: Essentially the counter-alpha male, Will takes a unique role in each of the books, all of which are surprising.
J.J. Lane: Rich boy, son of a famous man, J.J. thinks he is way too good to be on this voyage. J.J. is quite anti-social and must learn to communicate as part of his survival as well.
Lyssa Greenfield: Will’s sister, Lyssa does not have a specific personality that is pivotal so much as all of the characters’ reactions to Lyssa that make her important.
Each section contains spoilers for the individual books. Skip past these sections for more info without spoilers. I will try not to give everything> away.
Book 1: Shipwreck
Shipwreck opens with our six kids boarding the schooner Phoenix. These six kids are all put on board as a sort of punishment, boot camp sort of setup. In this novel alone we also have the captain and first mate as main characters. The title comes into play late in the book when the kids, sick of sailing, tired of the first mate, and pissed off in general, end up shipwrecked when the boat catches fire. This leaves them, or most of them, stranded on a desert island somewhere in the Pacific.
Book 2: Survival
Survival is the core of the whole, well, survival portions of the book. This middle book focuses on the kids adjusting to the island and trying to find how to survive. Unlike most survival tales, however, their time quickly evolves to exploration and… discovery. The kids find they are not alone. This situation turns out to be worse than they thought when they find a dead body, their friend on the brink of madness, and no way out. I personally was ready to consider this the pinnacle of the three books until I read the surprise at the end of Book 3… Escape.
Book 3: Escape
Escape really turns back to a suspense tale with momentum as the kids try to figure out how to get off the island and not get killed in the process. Numerous ideas come up but the discovery of a small, abandoned military outpost proves to be important as well. I simply have to leave details out of this section out of appreciation and respect for the ending.