Okay, I guess I can’t just say “you had me at Olive McGaggy.” I need to give you a little more about The Castaways… But man, I wish I had thought to write a book with Olive McGaggy as the name of my main character before Jessika Fleck did it!
Sixteen year-old Olive Gagmuehler has been tormented by her name for years – a smelly food plus the word “gag” was an easy source of jokes. And kids came up with Olive McGaggy as a cruel nickname.
For six years, Olive has been bullied by three girls she calls the “Trio.” The Trio has moved from merely teasing to physical harm as well.
One weekend, the Castaway Carnival comes to town. It’s a pirate-themed carnival with a corn maze. Unfortunately, there have been two incidents – two teenagers in the sixties, and a nine year-old last year – where kids have not come out of the maze. The kids simply vanished.
Olive bumps into the Trio at the Carnival. They attack her, but she manages to get free and runs into the corn maze to escape. One of the Trio members, Lesley, chases her, and Olive crawls into a tunnel made of cornstalks.
When she emerges from tunnel on the other side, she is in a forest. There is no more cornfield, and no more carnival. Even the moon is different.
Olive discovers she is on an island. There are twelve other kids on the island, living in two separate groups. The groups are at war, and Olive is dragged into the war before she even has a chance to pick sides.
Now Olive must fight to stay alive in the war and learn to live on a deserted island, while also trying to find a way home.
I had a lot of trouble putting The Castaways down. I was very quickly drawn into Olive’s life (maybe I have a little Olive McGaggy in me?), and cheered for her when she fought back against the Trio, even when she knew it meant Lesley was going to find worse ways to hurt her.
Once Olive was on the island, it was all over for me. I needed to know what would happen next. This is one of those books where you can’t wait to get to the end even though you know you’ll be sad that it’s finished.
In case you need a little more persuading (as if my review were not enough!), here’s the publisher’s teaser:
The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous. Renowned for its infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it.
When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing. Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.
Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home. But victory may require more betrayal, sacrifice, and heartbreak than she’s ready for.
As part of this Blog Tour, Ms. Fleck is giving away a Prize Pack, including a copy of The Castaways plus swag! (International winner will receive an Amazon gift card in place of the Prize Pack.) Enter here.
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