Book Review: Phoenix Island by John Dixon

Phoenix Island by John Dixon
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2014-01-07
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fiction, General, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Simon and Schuster

The judge told Carl that one day he’d have to decide exactly what kind of person he would become. But on Phoenix Island, the choice will be made for him.

A champion boxer with a sharp hook and a short temper, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman has been shuffled from foster home to foster home. He can’t seem to stay out of trouble, using his fists to defend weaker classmates from bullies. His latest incident sends his opponent to the emergency room, and now the court is sending Carl to the worst place on earth: Phoenix Island.

Classified as a terminal facility, it’s the end of the line for delinquents who have no home, no family, and no future. Located somewhere far off the coast of the United States and immune to its laws, the island is a grueling Spartan-style boot camp run by sadistic drill sergeants who show no mercy to their young, orphan trainees. Sentenced to stay until his eighteenth birthday, Carl plans to play by the rules, so he makes friends with his wisecracking bunkmate, Ross, and a mysterious gray-eyed girl named Octavia. But he makes enemies, too, and after a few rough scrapes, he earns himself the nickname “Hollywood” as well as a string of punishments, including a brutal night in the sweatbox. But that’s nothing compared to what awaits him in the Chop Shop: a secret government lab where Carl is given something he never dreamed of.

A new life. . . .

A new body. A new brain.

Gifts from the fatherly Old Man, who wants to transform Carl into something he’s not sure he wants to become.

For this is no ordinary government project. Phoenix Island is ground zero for the future of combat intelligence.

And for Carl, it’s just the beginning. .

I received this book for free from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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My Review:

Before I start this review, I want to note that I had absolutely no idea that this book was being made into the TV series, Intelligence.  I have never seen that show, and I think that I would not be inclined to based on my reaction to Phoenix Island by John Dixon.  In short, the violence in this book was really over-the-top and had me scratching my head a few times as I tried to figure out how the world created in Dixon’s future could resist at that level.  That said, it did not fail to deliver in terms of suspense, action, and intrigue.

Phoenix Island is a toss-up of Hunger Games meets Frankenstein meets The Detainee by Peter Liney.  As a last resort, delinquents are shipped off to the island where they, essentially, drop off the map from their home countries.  It’s on the island that they learn that their future is a grim one and that their lives may, in fact, be forfeit.  Honest, I was really with the book as all of this is being explained.  I enjoyed the boxing lessons as they pertained to the protagonist, Carl Freeman, and I really was digging the sort of end of the world vibe the story gave off.  But then, something happened.

This is where the book really dove downhill for me.  While I’m not a fan of violence, and there was plenty, I can understand it in this sort of book.  I’m also not a fan of killing off characters because you can, but again… some of it made sense here.  What I hated was the complete giveaway that happened halfway through the book.  Seriously, having the main character find a book that details out exactly what is going on, instead of letting your readers discover it on their own, is bad form.  I got this horrible taste in my mouth and only finished because I wanted to see how Carl managed to finish off the story.

So while there is tons of action and blood and gore and fighting going on in Phoenix Island, the mystery is not so much.  And, since the main reason I was reading was to try to figure out what was going on… well, as you can imagine, my rating won’t be really high as I am a reader who very much dislikes having her hand held and everything explained outright to her.  I think had the intrigue been left alone in the story, the outcome would have been a bit different for me.  It’s a shame, really.

Check out these reviews!

  • “All in all it was a great read despite all the hardships and cruelness. The ending was amazing and it held such a good cliffhanger… I need more of this pronto!” –  Blog of Erised
  • ‘”I reckon people who enjoyed Lord of the Flies will also enjoy this one.” –  The Social Potato Reviews
  • ” Phoenix Island is extremely well-written and fast-packed making this an extremely enjoyable read. ” – Scott Reads It

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