I picked up this book from one of the many shelves at my local library because the spine caught my eye and the cover looked sweet (don’t lie to me — you know you judge them too). The premise also sounded interesting so I decided to give it a shot. I haven’t read any of MacHale’s books so I went in with no expectations.
The book started off strong. The first few chapters were great at setting the tone of the story and painting a picture of the idyllic island that is Pemberwick. It sounds like the kind of place I’d want to go on vacation to, minus the military invasion. Not cool.
As I kept reading, there were many times where I wanted to give up. The place was much too slow for my liking and it only started to pick up half-way through the book. In fact, it took me four days to plough through the first half, as opposed to the one afternoon sitting I spent on the last half.
My other gripe with the book was with the supporting characters. While Tucker felt very fleshed out, I found that I had a lot of question marks in my head for his mum, dad, and Olivia. With the first two, I wished I could’ve learned more about them. Tucker obviously has a lot of respect for them but (view spoiler). As for Olivia, I felt that she was all over the place in the second half of the book. It was distracting reading her switch from being manipulative, to genuinely sweet and caring, to terrified as hell, to confident — usually within the span of a page.
Despite all those negatives, I’m glad I stuck with it. The last quarter of the book was a vast improvement, and lived up to James Dashner’s claim that the story is “relentlessly fast-paced … (and) leaves you breathless and satisfied.” My stomach was in knots because I was so hooked. My eyes did that thing where they’re looking at a sentence but end up drifting down without you realising it because you want to read faster but your brain isn’t catching up. You know the thing. You can actually see the point in my reading progress where I stop updating because I can’t put the book down.
I’ll be putting the sequel, “Storm”, on my reading list!