When reclusive millionaire Marcus Gold announces that he’s going to be staging an “Iron Teen” competition on his private island in the Outer Hebrides, teenagers Ben, Lizzie, Will, Grady and Carmen sign up – the prize is 1 million pounds … each. But when the competition begins, the group begin to regret their decision. Other teams are hunting their competitors and attacking them for body parts. Can the friends stick together under such extreme pressure to survive? When lives are at stake, you find out who you can really trust…
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Stand alone or series: Standalone
How did I get this book: Arc from Netgalley
Yes, it’s time for another ARC review! NetGalley’s been quite good for me keeping up with my reading…
Savage Island intrigued me from the description. Teens trapped on an island, facing a bloodthirsty and gory competition? Sounds like my kind of thing. While Savage Island didn’t quite hit all my expectations, it was an enjoyable read with some good ideas.
The first chapter introduces us to our five characters. Grady, Lizzie, Carmen, Will and, our eyes for this story, Ben. Each character is quite distinct and different but also feels like a realistic teenager. Sometimes teens in books sound and act a lot older than they’re meant to be but this book did quite well in showing that they’re just kids trapped in a horrible situation.
The first few chapters are a bit slow, establishing our main five characters. It really picks up when they reach the island and I think that’s where we see what they’re really made of. Each of them has flaws and strengths, that is emphasised by the dangerous situation.
Lizzie is the calm, collected one, who is rational and tries her best to keep the group alive. She dreams of university and using the money to pay off her parents’ mortgage. She’s clever and ambitious and stays fairly steady throughout. The events of the book clearly shake her but for the most part, she keeps her head. My only complaint is that compared to the others, she can be a bit bland. Very little about her stands out.
Grady is a conspiracy theorist and isn’t really part of the main group. He did Duke of Edinborough with the other four and winds up as the fifth member for the Iron Teen competition. Grady can be a bit annoying, too lost in theories, briefly putting forward that everything they’re experiencing is down to aliens. He’s prepared but a little too prepared, as his giant, overstuffed rucksack nearly gets them all killed.
Will is an odd one. He’s very cool, very logical, almost to the point of lacking emotions entirely. Only once in the entire book does he completely lose it, showing how dire the situation has become. I think for me, that’s when I knew it was all over. In flashbacks, we see that something is wrong with Will. His mother makes excuses for him and guilts Ben into caring for him, even in the present day.
Ben is Will’s older brother and our POV character. He is kind and loyal to his friends, but he seems to lack any confidence or backbone at times. His mother expects him to continue to care for Will, even though his brother is seventeen. He struggles to stand up to her and eventually buckles. Their dad left long ago and this also hints towards something being extremely wrong with their family life.
Ben also has the flaw of being too loyal at times. By this I mean he occasionally ends up worse off for his loyalty. Helping out Grady nearly got him and the others killed by the tide and he protects Will, even when it’s not in his best interests and can hurt other people. Ben loves Lizzie, but seems unable to tell her the truth about anything, whether it’s about his life or his feelings.
And finally, we have Carmen, who is probably my favourite of the five. She’s fiery and cheerful. Lizzie might be the steady centre of the group but Carmen is definitely the sun. She’s optimistic and keeps pushing the group forward. With the money she plans to put herself through school and achieve her dream of becoming a vet. One of my favourite things about her is how clever she is. While the whole team is very bright, she notices things the others don’t, looking at the problem in her own unique way. She probably experiences some of the worst trauma and because of this she shows a vengeful side and can charge into danger without thinking ahead.
Once they arrive on the island, the plot moves fairly quickly. It moves from battling the island and nature itself to realising that the game is a lot darker than they thought it would be. I was expecting what they were going to find, mostly due to the blurb, but them finding the first geocache and realising it was a human tooth was well written and still felt like a shock. Our protagonists are horrified and initially wonder if it’s a trick from one of the other teams. They quickly realise that it isn’t as they find more geocaches and find that they’re of the same grisly nature.
As a group they differ on what to do at first. Do they return to the beach and wait out the three days? Do they head for the end and hope that there’s help? A lot of this book is about what you’re made of in the dark. A lot of money is at stake for the winning team and a few other competitors have no problem with what it takes to get there. And even though our characters are the good guys and don’t seriously consider hurting anyone to win, it still brings out the dark, ruthless side of a few.
For the most part the story flows really well. My only complaint is that occasionally we see flashbacks and that can be a bit jarring. I think as it’s an ARC copy there’s not a lot that distinquishes between what’s happening now and what’s in the past, making it a bit confusing sometimes when it switches. Hopefully, this won’t be a problem when the book is released. The flashbacks are actually fairly important and give us an insight into Ben’s home life. They were just enough to make be intrigued and concerned about the truth about Will but they need to be done a bit more seamlessly.
I’m also not entirely sure about the ending or at least, a certain aspect of it. After I’d finished I could see how it came about but I’d have been happier with a bit more foreshadowing or anything to make it a bit more of a logical step. However, aside from that I enjoyed it and I love twists, so this book definitely hit the mark.
Final rating: 3 stars.
This book was definitely an interesting read but it’s probably more suited to a young teen. Despite not liking a few writing choices and having an issue with one plot twist, I do not regret reading it. It was quick paced, with unique characters that all felt like they had their own voice. If you want a cheery book with a happy ending this probably isn’t for you. But I think a young teen who enjoys something a bit dark or liked Point Horror will probably like this. I won’t get it on paperback but I think I will reread it at some point in the future.
Thank you to Netgalley for this ARC and also for the late night I had staying awake to finish it!
I tell you, that website might be good for my reading total, not so good for my sleep…