by Jessika Fleck
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: April 3, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous.
Renowned for its infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it.
When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing.
Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.
Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home.
Olive has been the victim of bullying for years and it’s all because of her name, Olive Maxi Gagmuehler. She’s been tormented by the same three girls, year after year. When her little brother talks her into taking him to the Castaway Carnival she reluctantly agrees but refuses to take him into the corn maze. There’s something up with the maze because kids tend to go missing when they go in there and there’s never any trace as to what happened to them. However, when Olive’s tormentors show up, she turns tail and runs into the maze in the hopes of losing her attackers. One minute she’s running away, dashing through corn stalks and climbing under bushes, and the next she’s on an island. An island that is inhabited by kids who’ve gone through a portal just like Olive did. Kids who were running away from something. While you’d think this place would be a reprieve for them, it’s not. There’s a war brewing between the two groups of kids who live on the island and that fight gets deadlier every day.
One thing that I thought was interesting about this story, aside from the island itself, is the story behind it. All these kids came from different decades in time and different countries, but there’s one thing they all had in common, they were running away from something. Also, the kids do not age a day while they are on the island. So while some of them should be like 60 years old, they are still stuck in their teen years. So, I thought it was interesting that you didn’t just have a group of kids who were between a certain age because technically they’ve been alive on the island for many years.
One thing I was a little disappointed in was the romance. I just didn’t fully get it. It just felt like it was thrown in there because romance is expected in YA. Why couldn’t Olive’s character have grown on the island without “falling in love” with the main guy. I thought the story was great without the included romance. It would have been nice if this rag-tag team of kids banned together and became a family without there being any romantic angles. I’m sure I’m in the minority on this one but I just loved the dynamics of this group before the romance was introduced.
The Castaways is a story about overcoming your fears. Each of the characters in this book had something they were running from. I liked the way the teens banned together and took care of each other, especially when it came to the younger kids who showed up on the island. While I felt like the romance was unnecessary, I still enjoyed this story. I loved the message that it told.
“This is no leisurely afternoon. There’s a cave-tree full of kids who are probably freaking out, bombs raining down on us without warning, and the bullies want me as a consolation prize, or more, a sacrificial symbol.”