Thursday, October 11, 2012

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

In On the Island, Anna, a 30-year-old English teacher, has been hired to tutor seventeen-year-old T.J. for the summer. He has fallen behind in school after a bout with cancer. Now, that he's in remission, his wealthy parents have arranged for him and his tutor to spend the summer in the Maldives to get caught up in school. On route, the plane carrying Anna and T.J. crashes after the pilot has a heart attack. The two of them survive and manage to get to a deserted island. While waiting for help to arrive, they depend on each other for survival and company. Eventually, they become attracted to one another.

  I thought the book had a pretty good premise and could have turned out to be an interesting story. However, the execution was a disappointment. The writing felt choppy and didn't flow. As for the story, it was superficial and didn't dig deep enough. I didn't feel the characters' struggle or their emotions over being trapped and isolated with little hope of rescue. The conversations didn't feel natural.

The story is written from two point of views, Anna's and T.J.'s, in alternating chapters. This style was a perfect fit for this type of story. I liked that part. However, there should have been more differentiation between the "voices". A 30-something woman speaks much differently than a teenager would. With just a few exceptions, it all felt pretty much the same.

While the age difference between Anna and T.J. could be a problem for some readers, it didn't bother me at all. I was bored by the other characters asking them when this relationship started. They wanted to make sure it was "legal", as if it would make a difference. Wouldn't they just lie if it had happened sooner?

Part of their story seemed to be inconsistent with reality. I don't want to go into too much detail and spoil the plot for others, so I'll just say I didn't find it believable. I will say, though, that they must the luckiest castaways ever, with most of their essentials eventually washing up onto shore shortly after they did. This included Woolite for laundry as well as shampoo, soap and other items. Apparently, there was enough to last a couple of years. Who carries that much with them on vacation? They also had other items, not commonly found on deserted islands, that greatly improved their chance of survival. That was great for them, but not terribly realistic.

Even though I didn't enjoy the book, I finished it two reasons. One, it was a fairly quick read. I'm a slow reader and it took me a couple of days, but that's still quick for me. Two, since I got this book from the publisher to review, I wanted to find some redeeming qualities in order to write this review. That was harder than I thought it would be.

Sorry, but I won't be recommending this book to anyone.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit Penguin's website. Note: This book was apparently picked up by Plume/Penguin after being self-published.

For more information about the author, please visit Tracey's blog.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Penguin for this review copy.

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves, Plume (Penguin), ©2012. ISBN 9780142196724(Trade paperback), 319p.

1 comment:

  1. How disappointing. I would probably picked this up based on the blurb. Just goes to show that even the best plot has to be well written. A talented author can keep you intetested even when the plot lags.


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