A Gripping And Realistic Portrayal of Survival: The Island by Olivia Levez

Monday, 14 March 2016

The Island | Olivia Levez | Published March 2016
Goodreads | Book Depository

Frances is alone on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. She has to find water and food. She has to survive. And when she is there she also thinks about the past. The things that she did before. The things that made her a monster. Nothing is easy. Survival is hard and so is being honest about the past. Frances is a survivor however, and with the help of the only other crash survivor, she sees that the future is worth fighting for.

The Island is a gripping and thoughtful story about a girl who didn’t ask to be the person she is but is also determined to make herself the person she wants to be.

In the beginning, it is really quite difficult to back Fran and root for her. She isn't easy to like and she makes some questionable decisions. She drinks the majority of her water right away and throws away other supplies that would be incredibly useful. However, as time progresses, it becomes easier to sympathise and understand her poor choices. This is largely down to the flashback chapters where we get to learn more about her life before these devastating events.

I loved the writing style of short chapters that flip between the past and the present. I thought the interspersed chapters of her past were quite fitting as Fran was delving back into her memories as she comes to terms with her situation. She's slowly allowing herself to think of all the bad things which allows us to learn what happened to her and what she did to end up on the expedition in the first place. The chapters being so quick makes it a fast paced read that's hard to put down.

The addition of another survivor added a whole new element to the story which I loved. We get some lighter moments as well as a really touching bond between them. With Fran being difficult to understand and like, it was nice to have this other character who I could connect with more. His willingness to get along with Fran and work together to survive, even when she is being annoying, made it easier for me to root for her too. I also adored Dog despite the fact my heart was worrying for his safety the entire time!

One of my favourite things about The Island is that it's a realistic portrayal of being stranded on a desert island; it isn't romanticised. There aren't two people swooning over each other and forgetting the dire situation they are in. It's harsh and dirty and brutal. It's all about survival skills and the durability of the human body. Body hair, bodily functions and periods aren't forgotten about.

The ending is one of those ones where you have to imagine what happens next yourself. I usually don't like these kinds of endings but I think it works well here given that there is more than one route the author could have taken. I think a fixed ending would have had the potential to feel rushed and so I'm happy with what we have. The Island was a gripping, well-written story of survival and I really, really enjoyed it.

How do you think you would fare if you were stranded on a desert island?

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  1. Great review. I love survival stories, so I think I need this book.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Thanks! I definitely recommend it if you like survival stories :)