The Castaways

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.

 But victory may require more betrayal, sacrifice, and heartbreak than she’s ready for.

Jessika Fleck created an addicting story that makes you dive full in and not come up for air until you’re done reading the last page. Whether you’re young or young at heart there is something in the story or characters that everyone can find themselves investing in, can discover about themselves.

 Since bullying is such a hot button issue in American society right now it’s no surprise Fleck would use this social crime as background for part of her story and as a setting for her character development. After all, seeing a victim progress from a browbeaten kid to a survivor and self-possessed leader is something to behold. I’ve heard it described as something like a combo of Mean Girls and Lord of the Flies and I can see where people would perceive the comparison whereas I’m siding a little more with it being something of a YA version of LOST. There’s plenty of the same adventure and survival instinct that shows up within the characters.

 Unlike the reality based Lord of the Flies, this is definitely a Fantasy novel. In LOTF they arrived at the island by a downed plane, here Olive ends up on the island by running into a corn maze as she is trying to escape being abused yet again at the hand of her uncontrollable peers. The detail Fleck puts into building her island world with its two groups of warring kids is incredible and makes you feel like you’re there fighting for your side to win.

 I liked how Fleck’s used her various B-list characters to describe and showcase various levels of Olive’s personality; depending on who she was interacting with brought out a different part of her identity much the way we all do. Her characters overall were so realistic, complex and multi-dimensional she was able to display a wide spectrum of human interaction.

 Her writing style lend itself to a great pace to keep you interested and she adds a bit of romance between Olive and Will. There’s a little bit of everything to cover a wide continuum of themes; one of which, learning to be okay with yourself regardless of others opinion, is one of the better ones.

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About the Author:


Jessika Fleck is an author, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens. Her YA debut, THE CASTAWAYS (Entangled TEEN), releases 4/3/17. Her next YA novel, THE OFFERING (Swoon Reads/Macmillan) is due out in the fall, 2018. Jessika is represented by Victoria Marini of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

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