by Olivia Levez
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.
I’m going to be brutally honest: I picked this book because of it’s cover. Vivid blue, bright and modern, I took the naive view that this was the book for me. Oh, how wrong I was!
From the beginning I knew that I wasn’t going to enjoy the story of teenage rebel Frances and her fight to survive on an uninhabited island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It wasn’t the plot that put me off, it was the style of writing. Right until it’s extremely disappointing end, the writing was repetitive, boring and at times downright strange. The author’s attempt to describe sound affects was particularly baffling, including one page consisting entirely of punctuation. Sadly both the characters and plot followed the same theme.
“Glinting wetly in the headache-sun, black seeds slide down the headless pole. I seize his headdress and rip the feathers out, scattering them in the air like –
a murmuration. It’s called a murmuration.”
The story follows Frances, a girl who has a prostitute for a mother, an absent father and a young brother to care for. Frances is not likeable, she’s difficult to care about and she makes ridiculous decisions that can’t be justified. Upon opening a life raft for example, she gets drunk and throws all useful equipment overboard. Great. Frances has anger issues, major ones.
The only other present day character appeared much later in the book, a tedious amount of time given that his presence on the island was revealed in the blurb on the back cover. Pompous, arrogant and far far too unrealistic, this guy is the polar opposite to Frances. The only character I had some emotion for was the dog, creatively named Dog.
Switching between past and present with some of the shortest chapters I have ever seen, it was clear that Fran had a traumatic childhood. This could have been explained in a lot more detail, many ends were left untied; Why was her mother so so awful? What was the deal with her mums boyfriend, Wayne? The story touched on far too many stories in not enough detail and is probably a great example of why less usually means more.
“I need to find the energy to finish this.”
I don’t like hating books and it’s clear from other reviews that many people feel completely differently to me. But sadly, this book’s only redeeming feature was the familiarity of neighbourhoods in South London in Frances’ past. There is always something enjoyable about reading about places you know.
Overall rating: A poorly and sometimes strangely written story about a girl who gets stranded on a desert island. If I got stranded on a desert island, I certainly wouldn’t want this book with me. It’s one star for “The Island”.