Mini Review: Shipwreck Island by S.A. Bodeen

Shipwreck Island
SA Bodeen

Feiwel & Friends
I received a copy of this book from the publishers.
Released July 29, 2014
192 pages
Middle Grade / Fantasy / Adventure

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Sarah Robinson is deeply troubled in the wake of her dad’s second marriage. She now has to deal with a new stepmom and two stepbrothers, Marco, who is her age, and Nacho, who’s younger. Even though they’ve all moved from Texas to California to start life as a new, blended family, none of the kids seem remotely happy about it.

Sarah’s dad and stepmom then decide to take the whole family on a special vacation in order to break the ice and have everyone get to know one another. They’ll fly to Tahiti, charter a boat, and go sailing for a few days. It’ll be an adventure, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong. 

Shipwreck Island is the first installment in a series from S.A. Bodeen.

Shipwreck Island is one of the better middle grade titles I’ve read in a long while. It was written at a lower grade level (of course), but it didn’t talk down to the readers or dumb down subject matter at all. It’s rare that I genuinely enjoy reading a middle grade title simply because there usually isn’t as much to dive into, but Shipwreck Island was a great adventure title no matter its targeted age group.

Sarah finds herself going from living with her dad in California to suddenly having two step brothers and a step mother she’s never met before after her father gets married after a short whirlwind internet romance. Now her dad wants to take the new blended family on a trip so everyone can get to know each other and bond into one happy joint family. It’s too bad that the luxury vacation with a private cruise turns out to be a sketchy little boat with a sketchier captain that takes them right into the heart of a storm.

As you can tell by the title, the little boat crashes and Sarah finds herself on an abandoned island with creepy hybrid monsters and possibly even some ghosts. It doesn’t help that she now has to rely on the very people she swore to hate just to survive the night. Suddenly her father is relying on her new step brother more than he is her and everything starts going from bad to worse.

Bodeen swaps between the voices of Sarah and Marco, and captures them both very well. She balances the difficulties of two pre-teens trying to reconcile such a huge change in their life with the Lost-like mysteries of the island where they crashed. When the pre-teen drama started to fill a little thick, here comes in a monster or some other bad thing to refocus the plot. This is a very quick read with a captivating setting and a lot of set up for a really mysterious and potentially mad sequel.