Echo Island

by Jared C. Wilson

“Bradley was incredulous. ‘Dude. Everybody’s gone.’

‘Vanished,’ Archer whispered.

‘Even my dog’s gone,’ Bradley said.

‘Mine too,’ said Tim.

‘That doesn’t make any sense.’ Bradley nodded.

Jason cracked a smile. ‘Is this some kind of joke?'”

Ratings & Reviews

Book Grade: C

Echo Island started off with realistic dialogue, beautiful scenery, and just a touch of mystery. As soon as the boys realize that they are alone on the island, the suspense grows and I couldn’t help but try to guess what had happened to them.

Watching each of the characters cope with the same problem in very different ways was enlightening and completely relatable. I couldn’t help but wonder how I would tackle the same problem. Would I handle it like Archer – the brainiac who needs to solve all problems with logic and academic knowledge – or would I handle it like Jason – the guy who is still figuring himself out and tries to find clever ways to outwit the unseen enemy?

After a few unexpected surprises, I was delighted to see that the plot was moving forward only to have a wrench thrown into the story. There was a twist so wholly unexpected that I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I struggled with the rest of the book and found it far-fetched and dissatisfying. While I wanted to like it because of the beautiful Pacific Northwest scenery, the story seemed illogical and confusing. In the end, I was fairly disappointed and uncertain about the message of the book.

Movie Rating: PG

Echo Island deals with some challenging topics, but in a fairly obtuse way. There is underage drinking (although the other characters frown upon it and make it clear that they don’t approve). There is mention of abuse (although the reader is spared the details, so next-to-nothing is known about the situation). There is mention of a man who may have killed his wife, but other than a passing comment, there are no details.

In spite of these moments of darkness, there are also examples of true friendship and selflessness. There is a discussion about church, heaven, and religion. There is also a question about purgatory, evil, and goodness.

The result is a book that is largely appropriate for all readers. The difficult topics are glossed over and the deeper questions of morality are brought up for readers to consider. I appreciated how there is no swearing and the emphasis is on the individual decisions that each of us makes and what those choices ultimately mean.

Would I Buy This for My Library: No

While I appreciate books that can inspire philosophical discussions and allow me to think critically about larger problems, I found this book’s ending to be deeply dissatisfying. As a result, I don’t plan to purchase this book for my school library. I don’t think that it is a bad book – please don’t read my review that way – I just think that as a YA novel, there are so many questions that most teen readers (as well as this adult reader) will be left feeling that they missed something. It is difficult to recommend a book that has so much uncertainty and left me feeling frustrated.

Summary:

Four friends wrap up their annual camping trip and are headed home when they get into an auto accident. After narrowly escaping the wreckage, the four return to their Pacific Northwest island – Echo Island – only to learn that everyone has vanished. There are no signs of life at all. All of their family members, pets, and even the electricity are gone as if they never existed. Determined to get to the bottom of this terrifying puzzle, the four friends each work in very different ways to unearth different secrets about themselves and each other.

Echo Island is part science fiction, part fantasy, and part suspense. As each of the four boys trying to come to grips with the new reality, the reader is brought through a winding path, constantly questioning what is real and what is imagined. Unexpected surprises await the boys (as do harsh realities), but ultimately more questions than answers arise.

If you are looking for a dystopian puzzler and are okay not having all the answers to some of life’s most complex questions, Echo Island is the thrilling adventure for you!

Book Talk Questions:

  1. Describe the accident. What caused it? What happens as a result of it?
  2. Why was the ferry ride suspicious? On a deeper level, who is the ferry driver supposed to represent?
  3. What does Bradley do to try to get help? What does he realize? When do the others actually believe him?
  4. Who is Beatrice? Why is she stuck on the island?
  5. What do the boys find in the cabin? How does this shape their understanding of the situation?
  6. What does Jason learn about his role in the story? What does he decide to do at the end?

A Perfect Read for Fans Of…

  • The Woman in the Trees by Theoni Bell
  • The Phantom of the Colosseum by Sophie de Mullenheim
  • The Adventures of Loupio by Jean-Francois Kieffer

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