Sunday, 26 January 2014

Phoenix Island

by John Dixon
320 pages - 22.99 $
Gallery Books (7 janvier 2014)

I've received a mail from NetGalley informing us that a new book was available. Then I've read that that book inspired a TV show, so I looked on the Internet what was that TV show, it sounded promising and knowing that books are always better that TV... So I must say, between the cover (really cool) and the story around that book... I was intrigued enough to decided to give it a try. Thanks Gallery Books !

The blurb

The story that inspired CBS TV’s Intelligence. Phoenix Island was supposed to be a boot camp for troubled children. But as one boy learns, the secrets of this jungle are as vast as they are deadly.

When sixteen-year-old boxing champ Carl Freeman jumps in to defend a helpless stranger, he winds up in real trouble—a two-year sentence at an isolated boot camp for orphans. Carl is determined to tough it out, earn a clean record, and get on with his life. Then kids start to die.

Realizing Phoenix Island is actually a Spartan-style mercenary organization turning “throwaway kids” into super-soldier killers, Carl risks everything to save his friends and stop a madman bent on global destruction.

What I think of it

I can't think straight... so much was I blown away by that book! It's brilliant. The writing, the pace, the characters, everything was great. In fact, I've started this book at 3 am one night, thinking that it would help me go back to sleep and I stop reading because of my alarm clock: I had to go to work (duh). As I've already said to John Dixon on Twitter, he should include some excuses in his book that we can bring to our boss not to go to work (what with not being very effective...) I must say that I'm not into YA books, in fact I didn't notice that Phoenix Island is a YA book. As the TV show is about adult, I thought it was an adult book (lame I know). Then, I went back to check the book more seriously after an all night session of reading it and discovered it's YA. Well, that book is so much darker than I thought a YA was! 

Well, so what's so good about that book? For starter, the characters. You'll love Carl, one of the toughest and bravest guy possible. OK, he did get into trouble a lot of time, he did hurt people, but always to defend the weaker and fight the bullies. Who wouldn't love that kind of guy? (well, the bullies obviously!) Granted his young age, he's still got a lot of wisdom and keeps deeply rooted in reality. Then, there's Ross who fights his way through life with his humour which gives us some very good replies. Octavia, the girl in the trio, is more enigmatic but she's still able to fight for what's right. These are the good guys. Then, there's Drill Sergeant Parker, Stark, Decker and his gang. Those, you don't want to know them nor to meet them! Parker is one of the most loathsome character you'll met. The worst part is that a lot of us have meet that kind of guy: a bully who reach some authority and overuse it. In any case, I've met some Parker in my life, maybe that's why I could relate to Carl. 

Then, it's not all good vs evil in Phoenix Island (some of the bad guys turn good). Stark can be good for his people, in his wicked way. In any case, it sure is a dark book! Dixon, like George R. R. Martin, is that kind of author who's able to kill one character you'd love to see to the end. So, in some way, it's realistic. In an island where bullies are kings, you can't expect the good guys to win without some casualties, right? Still, it's heart breaking to read some part of the book. And there, I've said too much already! 

Furthermore, John Dixon is a former Golden Gloves boxer and it's easy to see how he relates to his character, Carl, also a boxer. All the feelings expressed by Carl about the fighting are too well described not to be first hand experiences. I'm not a big fan of boxe but I must say that it's so cleverly writen I appreciated those parts. The fighting scene are thrilling and chilling and the reason I read all night... so that might not be a good point (just kidding!) Other than that, the pace is incredible alterning between action, fight and contextualization, I've never grew tired or bored. As for the end, I found it intelligent and incredible (talk about taking rough decisions!) 

In a nutshell

One hell of a book, suspenseful, chilling and thrilling that will keep you awake at night but guess what? You'll ask for more! I give it a 5/5. 


  1. Thanks so much for trying PHOENIX ISLAND, Vanessa, and for the awesome review. Love the excuse note idea. If I wrangle up that swag, you get the first one. Thanks!

  2. My pleasure ! And yes, I'll take one for when I read you're next book :D