Review: The Island by M.A. Bennett

The Island by M.A. Bennett
Published by: Hot Key Books
Released: 9th August 2018
Page Count: 304 Pages
Edition: Kindle
Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Link is a fish out of water. Newly arrived from America, he is finding it hard to settle into the venerable and prestigious Osney School. Who knew there could be so many strange traditions to understand? And what kind of school ranks its students by how fast they can run round the school quad – however ancient that quad may be? When Link runs the slowest time in years, he immediately becomes the butt of every school joke. And some students are determined to make his life more miserable than others . . . 

When a school summer trip is offered, Link can think of nothing worse than spending voluntary time with his worst tormentors. But when his parents say he can only leave Osney School – forever – if he goes on the trip, Link decides to endure it for the ultimate prize. But this particular trip will require a very special sort of endurance. The saying goes ‘No man is an island’ – but what if on that island is a group of teenagers, none of whom particularly like each other? When oppressive heat, hunger and thirst start to bite, everyone’s true colours will be revealed. Let the battle commence . . .


Having heard a lot of positive views on M.A. Bennett’s work via bookish twitter it was only a matter of time before I became interested in reading one of her novels. The Island sounded so alluring and I was really looking forward to becoming absorbed in this adventure.

Link is a nerd. Having arrived from America he is finding it hard to settle into life at the famed Osney School. Bullied for being the school’s slowest runner in years he soon becomes the butt of every joke. Some students making his life more unbearable than others. When he is offered a school summer trip he can think of nothing worse…that is until his parents say he can leave school if he goes on it. Link decides to go for it but things soon take an unexpected turn. Stranded on an island with his bullies Link’s true colours are set to be revealed.

This was a book that I had really high hopes for. I’ve read a few books about being stranded on islands and I’ve enjoyed all of them but The Island fell a bit short for me for a few reasons. It was a very slow starter. I was expecting us to be introduced to The Island almost immediately but we didn’t get onto that until almost halfway through. I know every story needs a back story but with The Island it felt like some bits weren’t even needed. Also, I found it hard to believe that Link’s parents would send him to a school all about sports when it’s clear to them that he doesn’t do any. I can kind of understand that they had a deal with their university but still it didn’t really make much sense to myself.

The epilogue was also something that I had a little bit of an issue with. It felt very out of place to the rest of the book. I didn’t really understand why it needed to be in there. It didn’t add anything or give you peace of mind. The ending would have been just fine without this epilogue.

Despite this, there were a few bits that I was really drawn to. The first being the topic of bullying (trigger warning). This is a topic that is becoming added to YA slowly and one that needs to be addressed. I’ll admit I did find some of the scenes of bullying uncomfortable to read but it really did get the issue across. Nothing was glamourised and I applaud M.A. Bennett for bringing this issue to our attention. Also, the middle of the book when they are on the island caught my interest almost immediately. It was interesting seeing how each character reacted to being stranded and how the tables turned when Link was all of a sudden the popular one. I also loved The Breakfast Club references.

Link, as a character was one that I started off liking and feeling sorry for but ended up disliking. His character development could have gone in a totally different direction. The way the power went to his head made for awkward reading and he just acted like a jerk towards the others, especially the girls. However, I can understand why he acted in that way. After being bullied for several years it was only natural that he was going to turn the tables on those who bullied him. This just wasn’t what I was expecting from someone as smart and as level headed as him.

The Island was an okay read. The concept had big potential but it just fell a bit short for me. It wasn’t a bad novel but it’s one that won’t really be sticking with me for long.

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