Thursday, February 23, 2023

The Island

Preston, Natasha. The Island
February 28th 2023 by Delacorte
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Paisley is a teen social media influencer whose murder related podcast has 500,000 followers. She, along with five other influencers, has been invited to spend a weekend at the extremely posh new Jagged Island resort run by Malcolm Wyatt. It's a bit odd; decorated entirely in a dark, Gothic way, accessible only by boat, and fairly mysterious. Invitees like Ava and Will, who do a beauty blogs, are a bit apprehensive; Ava is downright rude. Paisley is willing to give it a go, especially since there are some cute guys, like influencer Liam and staff member Reeve. She also hits it off with Harper, a book blogger who reads, shockingly, a book every single day and has her Goodreads Challenge set to 350 books. (*cough* slacker *cough). There's also movie buff James, assorted staff, and Malcom's personal assistant, Camilla Jenkins. She seems less than happy to be at the resort. When Paisley arranges to break the rules and meet Will in the middle of the night to investigate the island, she's put out when he doesn't show up. The next morning, when he doesn't come to breakfast, no one is too concerned. It's a teen boy sleeping in. The others go off to sample the rides and other delights, but keep thinking that Will should have shown up. But he can't! He's been brutally murdered! Then, the WiFi goes out! Oh, no! Soon, everyone is frantically around the island trying to figure out what's going on, making bad choices, like going into dark basements. The router wires have all been cut, there's a storm going on that makes leaving the island impossible, and Paisley has to use her crime related skills to try to solve the mystery of what shadowy figure is wandering around the island killing people. They come up with a name, Robert, and a connection to the Jagged Island management, but they aren't quick enough to stop him murdering repeatedly, and he's not a man who does things in a delicate and nuanced way. When Paisley discovers that there are other connections she has been slow to grasp, will she be able to survive?
Strengths: Well, then. Having been impressed by Preston's 2020 The Twin and its nuanced, psychological horror, this was... a surprise. This was a very scary book with lots of blood and gore, which is something my readers ask for all the time. The characters are all teenagers, which makes sense, and many  middle school students think that they can earn a living as social media influencers, so they will love the stories of how the characters became famous. Despite all of the frenetic action, there is a good underlying mystery, and Paisley does solve it. Surprisingly, there was very little bad language, which was quite nice. 
Weaknesses: I was traumatized by the nonstop brutal murders. It would be hard for me to hand this book to students. I would not have given it to my own personal children before they were in high school. This is where I am conflicted. Yes, my students would read it. But do I want to spend limited funds on a book that might cause some students to have nightmares? I can't buy everything. 
What I really think: If you have books like Polatin's The Devil in Ohio, Stoffel's Fright Night, Jayne's 2021 The Girl in the Headlines, or are buying the rereleased Christopher Pike titles because YOU read them when you were in 7th grade, go ahead and buy this one. I'm going to pass on this one for middle school and stick with Alexander's similar influencers-go-to-evil-theme-park book, The Escape, which didn't bludgeon my sensibilities quite so much. This is a great book for what it is. It just isn't what I want for my school library. 
Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:22 PM EST

    Too scary for me! Carol Baldwin