Review: Shipwreck Island by S.A. Bodeen

Author: S.A. Bodeen
Genre: Middle Grade, Survival Fiction
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Expected Publication: July 29, 2014

Sarah Robinson is deeply troubled in the wake of her dad’s second marriage. She now has to deal with a new stepmom and two stepbrothers, Marco, who is her age, and Nacho, who’s younger. Even though they’ve all moved from Texas to California to start life as a new, blended family, none of the kids seem remotely happy about it.

Sarah’s dad and stepmom then decide to take the whole family on a special vacation in order to break the ice and have everyone get to know one another. They’ll fly to Tahiti, charter a boat, and go sailing for a few days. It’ll be an adventure, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong.

When I started reading Shipwreck Island the first thing I noticed was the similarities to another very popular Children's survival book called The Swiss Family Robinson.  However, my fears of an updated, Americanized, copycat were quickly replaced once the family actually headed out and ultimately became stranded on the island. Shipwreck Island as it is dubbed by the survivors was more Island of Dr. Moreau than peaceful tropical paradise just waiting to be explored. In fact, exploring this Island might just prove to be not only dangerous but deadly.

Something that I really enjoyed about Shipwreck Island was how untypical the family was. The young protagonists Sarah, Marco and Nacho are all struggling with their parents marriage and I think the Author captures those difficulties well. While Shipwreck Island is certainly a survival story, it is also about the merging of two very different families, with conflicting ideas and personalities under less than ideal circumstances. The story also lightly touches on the grief accompanying the loss of a loved one and betrayal issues surrounding a parents remarriage in light of that.  

Now although I did like Shipwreck Island it did have a few problems that kept me from rating it higher. 

First off, I didn't like how quickly the story went from the family boarding the boat to winding up shipwrecked on the island. While it is obvious they'd wind up stranded I personally could have used a few pages of them relaxing and starting to bond before everything went to hell in a hand basket. 

Secondly, I do not understand why they decided to get on the boat in the first place especially, considering how unsafe it appeared on first glance. Yes, I get that Sarah's dad really wanted them all to bond but c'mon now, it's not like they were broke and this ship was their only option. Yes it might mean losing a deposit but better than risking the safety of your new wife and children.  

Lastly, I really disliked the ending. While I don't mind cliffhangers I do hate feeling unsatisfied by how things wrap up. Now I will say that I read an advance copy so maybe the finished product is different but in my copy it just ended and felt like maybe several pages were still left to be told beyond that. 

Final Thoughts
Shipwreck Island was a fast paced, middle grade, adventure story. While Shipwreck Island is undoubtedly geared towards young teens or tweens I can honestly recommend this for all ages. While the plot on the surface was a very superficial survival story the paranormal elements and the creeping sense of foreboding for the survivors left plenty for an adult imagination to ponder as well.    
With that being said, I'll be rating Shipwreck Island by S.A. Bodeen .

*Copy reviewed provided by publisher. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way for providing them.

About the Author
Stephanie is the award-winning author of the Elizabeti's Doll series of picture books, as well as several others. Her first young adult novel The Compound was released in 2008 and recently won the Maryland BlackEyedSusan Award, Nebraska Golden Sower Award, and the Indiana Young Hoosier Award. Her second YA The Gardener was featured on Good Morning America as a Best Summer Teen Read, and her third YA The Raft was recently named a 2013 Tayshas list title. The Fallout will be released September 2013 from Feiwel and Friends/MacMillan

Connect with Stephanie: Twitter / Website / Goodreads


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