Children's books and book reviews - reading resource for kids, teachers, librarians, parents

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*X-Isle* by Steve Augarde- young adult book review
by Steve Augarde
Ages 14+ 480 pages David Fickling Books July 2010 Hardcover    

A new addition to the genre of dystopian fiction, X-Isle tells the story of life after a worldwide flood. For those who have survived, simple existence is extremely difficult; food is scarce, sanitation poor, and everyone is barely scraping by to survive.

There is one glimmer of hope for young boys: an island where boys must work hard but are guaranteed to be well fed and cared for - an island (referred to as X Isle) ruled by religious fanatic and salvage business operator, Preacher John. His three sons and crew choose the boys based on the goods their parents can provide in trade. Baz and Ray are chosen on the same day. Initially thrilled, they soon learn that the forced labor on the island, physical and mental cruelty and meager canned meals are much worse than they could ever have imagined.

The community of working boys is small. They live and work under the supervision of two older, abusive boys and with the guidance of another who functions as the island’s engineer. Each day, teams are chosen – one to sort food cans which were brought up by the divers, another to build a jetty on the island. Utilizing intimidation and antagonizing the boys, they are kept in a state of wearied submission. Eventually, the working boys learn to work together for their common good, which ultimately means becoming free from their oppressors, no matter the cost.

Tensions build as Preacher John needs the water to clear to continue his successful salvage business. In his warped sense of faith, he prays and offers sacrifices to God as he sees the water begin to clear. A big change is coming to the island, a change for the worse. The boys must decide whether or not their freedom and their lives are worth committing horrendous acts to save themselves and others. As the boys build an ingenious, albeit crude bomb using methane from their own bodies, they also come to recognize and abhor the violence around them: some boys who had supposedly been returned to the mainland in reality were killed.

A thick novel, this British import is fast-paced with suspense and violence building to the very end. .While Baz is the central character, Augarde develops his all characters into their own unique personalities with secrets and motives of their own – revealing truths which surprise both Baz and the reader. Baz himself represents the moral voice of the book, making thoroughly thought-out decisions considering the good of the group as much as possible.

American readers will have to decipher a number of Briticisms, many of which can be considered crude or vulgar, in the context of the dialog. With relatively long chapters, this is not a book for a reluctant reader but rather more for the enthusiastic fan of the genre. Give this book to older fans of The Hunger Games and Maze Runner, or classics such as Fahrenheit 451 or Lord of the Flies. Highly recommended for high school age boys.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

click here to browse children's board book reviews
click here to browse children's picture book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young adult book reviews
click here to browse parenting book reviews
web reviews
  Kristine Wildner/2010 for curled up with a good kid's book  

For grown-up fiction, nonfiction and speculative fiction book reviews,
visit our sister site Curled Up With a Good Book (