By Soyeenka Mishra
“For the first time, I was afraid we’d die on this shore.”
I had originally bought the hardcover version of this book on a whim since it was on discount, and I can safely say that it was a good decision. The cover art is absolutely gorgeous and the serene blue coloration was a delightful surprise. Overall, I liked the book. I can’t say that I absolutely loved it, but it wasn’t awful. I’m happy to have read it. I have my complaints about certain traits of the characters, but the plot was way better than in some other novels that I’ve previously read, and I loved the writing style and character arcs.
Warning: this review will contain spoilers.
The plot was definitely a gripping one; one which kept you on your toes, guessing what the next twist was going to be. It was so unpredictable that I couldn’t just put it down (it was yet another all-nighter read). The characters weren’t unnaturally perfect, and they had their flaws, a lot of them, in fact– I liked that a lot.
Let’s talk about the writing. I specifically loved the writing itself more than anything else. The alternate chapters– one from the past, one in the present? That really doesn’t work for some plots, but this book undoubtedly nailed it. The suspense kept you going as you rushed to learn what happens next. Other than that, I loved the bits when the main characters were on the island, which is pretty much more than half of the book. The imagery was lovely, and the details were so profound that they felt as if they were taking you to the island itself. Well, all books transport you to their world (provided that you are capable of imagining it) but this one didn’t just do that; it made you see all the tiniest minutiae that made up its world, the scenes, the natural beauty of an untouched land, the threat of nature. And there was never a point where it felt as if surviving in the way that the novel portrays was impractical or illogical; it was perfectly believable.
Half of the book took me longer than usual to read because of the sheer hatred I had towards Henri. She wasn’t entirely a bad person, but except in a mere few instances, her actions borne out of spite, in my opinion, weren’t justified. The author did an awesome job of casting her in that light. I do understand why she did some things, owing to the family problems and her own issues, but the extent to which she went to do her own bidding was unwarranted. She had many toxic tendencies in the past but I’m more than happy that she changed for the better in the end.
What she did at the end was a good deed– a great deed, in fact – but unfortunately, she didn’t redeem herself in my eyes; I’m just not a very forgiving person. I mean, the ending would have taken a turn for the worse (for some time at least) had she not intervened, but she still has a long way to go before I grow fond of her, or even just have neutral feelings for her. Her logic was seriously screwed up, and she needs to continue getting help.
Emma. Emmalyn Jones. Or simply Jones, as Alex called her. For most of the plot, her character was very frustrating to me. She stood in the shadow of her sister for so long that she didn’t know what else to do. Her following Henri around like a lost puppy, getting manipulated by her, defending her even when she kept acting irrationally: all of it was annoying and increasingly disappointing. She did step up eventually and became her own person but she needed to do it earlier. However, that being said, I did enjoy the character development, watching her shed her inhibitions one by one as the story progressed.
What Em did out of impulsiveness and misplaced jealousy was the most horrible thing. Yes, Henri’s actions needed to be shed light on, I admit, but Emma’s way of doing it was just so, so wrong. Poor Gavin Flynn was collaterally damaged; his entire life and career left ruined forever due to one little lie which Emma thought wouldn’t bring on any serious consequences. All the pretense she had done earlier, tiny little lies here and there to Henri– all of those came back to bite her, which was a good lesson that she had to learn the hard way.
Now it’s Alex’s turn to be discussed. Alex Roth, cousin of Casey Roth. He was a brave fella who didn’t deal with grief in a wholly unhealthy manner and he stuck to his morals (with a few exceptions). The mysterious and, simultaneously, suspicious aura of his character caused me to feel somewhat distanced and wary of him initially but, at the same time, I admired the way that he saw things for what they were.
When he revealed his secrets, it wasn’t totally surprising since I was expecting something along the lines of what came out. Alex made a lot of bad decisions in his life that ultimately lead to Casey’s death, but he paid for his mistakes. When the authorities took him away and the Joneses couldn’t do anything, it was a very hopeless moment since I couldn’t think for the life of me how he would get out safely without any charges. Things worked out pretty well in the end which I am terrifically impressed by and grateful for as well. He went through a lot of pain and grief throughout the story, and it made me feel really bad for him… he didn’t deserve so much agony, especially considering his past.
I would recommend this book to you if you’re tired of your daily lives and want to escape onto an unknown island for amazing, dangerous, and thrilling adventures with a bunch of teenagers who try their best to stay alive with nothing in their arsenal but a couple of things. Be prepared to be filled with questions for the better part of the book as well as some self-discovery and a little bit of romance (some fluff, some not) on this snazzy escapade.
Find the raw copy of this review here.