The Island - CL Taylor

When a group of teenagers end up stranded on a remote island they realise they must stick together to stand a chance of surviving. They start to see things that suggest they're not alone on the island and when their individual fears start to come to life they don't think the mysterious islanders are friendly.

A big thanks to HQ for sending me a review copy of this upcoming release! 'The Island' is due to be published on 21st January 2021.

Taylor has a great history of thriller novels and stepping into YA thriller seems like a smart move although this felt a bit jumbled. The first thing I picked up on is that although the island has six teenagers stranded the POV remained with two characters and this felt odd, there were many points where a different narrative would have been advantageous. By focussing on Jessie and Danny we did only get two-sides of the story and whilst they were the key players it felt forced having to only read their perspective. Similarly, the character's backstories also felt slightly forced and unimportant. Gradually, Danny's background became key to the revelation of the story but for the others, it only gave a slight confirmation that their 'fears' were justified when they encountered them. I also found that Milo and Jesse having an on-and-off-again relationship felt added on to give the story some different side stories, it didn't become important in the grand scheme of the story.

A setting is always important in an isolated mystery and I definitely think Taylor pulled off the mysterious and creepy atmosphere of the island. Although the characters seemed relatively two-dimensional the setting really pulled you straight into book and turning the page during suspenseful moments left me tense with anticipation. The story itself was suspicious and led me down different avenues and did leave me guessing right up to the end and I appreciated that after the characters not holding much mystery themselves.

I want to address the ending so I will put a spoiler ahead note here.

It becomes clear that something is slightly off with Danny and he takes his protection of Honor became obsessive to the point of being scary. As the other characters start to realise Danny isn't thinking straight the big revelation comes out that Danny is the only one who has seen their fears coming to life and he is hallucinating them due to past trauma triggering his mental health downward spiral. Taylor addressed his issues seriously and with compassion despite the YA audience, more and more I'm seeing authors take up the role of being the informative narrator for mental health struggles and this was handled with grace. I was slightly put off that it was the character with mental health troubles being the one who has caused all the fear on the island but looking back it seems apt that we go on the journey of discovery with Danny and see how ignoring his issues led to his further trauma.

Overall I'd class it as just 'fine', it was a quick read and there was a mystery that we uncovered with emotional results but the overall execution fell flat.

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