Tuesday, March 15, 2011

REVIEW: "Bug Island" by R. G. Cordiner

A mysterious island that shouldn't exist suddenly appears on radar, a cruise ship hits an underwater mine, a group of survivors struggle to remain alive on a deserted island.... SCRNCH... err, wait, what was that? As the survivors come face to face with bizarre bugs that can't possibly be as big as they appear, they'll need every bit of courage and wit to stay alive. What *is* this place, anyway? And is there any way off?

Authored by a teacher, R.G. Cordiner, this story is written in a simplistic style for a younger audience. In all honesty, I'm a little torn on how I feel about the writing. Billed on one site as horror for a "young adult/teen" audience, and on another site as "middle grade novel" the actual writing style seems geared for the younger audience, or teens with much lower reading levels. With very simplistic sentences, short paragraphs, and many "sound effects" built in, I am picturing the writing as a read-aloud for younger children. I feel the actual content of the writing, however, is geared for a slightly older age category. I was so undecided on this issue, I passed the book on to my 10yo son and then asked him some questions when he was done reading. He thought the writing was a little too simple for his grade level (5th), but he was definitely interested in the storyline. We also both enjoyed that there were facts about each bug listed at the end of the story. It's a great way to learn more about bugs!

The characterization is also simple, but with enough distinction to differentiate the characters. The character of Zosimo bothered me a bit, however. I felt his speech patterns were inconsistent in the story. At times, he spoke in very broken English, later speaking in fairly fluid sentences, only to speak another broken sentence later. I really liked Fiona's character, and I felt she was the most developed of all of the characters. The characterization was, overall, appropriate for the level of writing. I think older audiences may want more, but it should be enough to satisfy the younger readers.

The ending offered great closure while still giving the reader something to think about for the future of the island. Not everything is tied up in a neat little package throughout the story, which is nice because of the unpredictability. You just don't know who is going to survive, and that lends a nice feeling of adventure and discovery throughout. The events did seem a bit sterile to me, and that may reflect upon the simplistic writing style. Additionally, the transitions between events and settings are sometimes delineated with a break, and sometimes not. Using consistent breaks would help the reader understand that a switch in point of view and setting just happened. Overall, a satisfying story and enjoyable read!

In the end, I asked my son what he would rate this book, as he really is the target audience. He actually gave me the exact number of stars I had already decided upon. Looks like he may follow in my footsteps....

3.5 /5 stars

Available at Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

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