Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart

Review by Laura the Book Enthusiast

As children, who of us don’t, at least, imagine having no adult supervision. We can eat what we want, go to bed when we want, and do what we want. Best of all, no consequences, or so we foolishly believe.

The scenario above is exactly what Jonathan Grisby finds himself in. Sent to Slabhenge Reformatory School for reasons unknown, the protagonist struggles to adjust to the harsh conditions of this brutal prison. When the boys of Stabhenge find themselves without adult supervision, they decide to take Stabhenge into their own hands; renaming it Scar Island, in honor of themselves. But what starts out as a democracy, turns into a dangerous dictatorship. Will Jonathan stand up against the foe of Scar Island, or will he allow his personal demons to condemn him?

Scar Island is mesmerizing from start to finish. I listened to the audiobook, performed by MacLeod Andrews, who captivated me with his wide array of voices and characters. You have the stoic protagonist, Jonathan, voice ordinarily calm and quiet. There is Sebastian, the loud-mouth bully, who also sounds like a bit of a whiner, which I believe is a good acting choice, because bullies usually are. Colin, my favorite character, seems to be Jonathan’s conscience, and is a brave boy with a lisp, no less. His speech impediment does not hold him back from speaking his mind, much to the irritation of Sebastian. Speaking of, the subtle humor Gemeinhart weaves into his story, via dialogue, is clever. You will find yourself shifting between dread and laughter quite frequently throughout the narrative.

There is a mysterious librarian who pops up from time to time, and yet, you can feel his presence through the whole novel. While we do get some background information on this character, just who the librarian is, is shrouded in mystery. This elderly man can’t even remember his own name. However, he remembers all the books available in his library. Jonathan always has a book in hand after his encounters with the librarian. As the latter always says: “You cannot leave a library, without a book.” Truer words never said! The librarian shows Jonathan, Robinson Crusoe, Lord of the Flies, and Treasure Island, subtle, or not so subtle references of their similarities to Scar Island.

If you enjoy elements of mystery, horror, suspense, adventure, and even humor, you will enjoy Scar Island. Great characters abound, and an intriguing setting is the frosting on the cake, or, the shells on the seashore. So, what are you waiting for? Pick up a copy of Scar Island at your local library or bookstore. The librarian would approve!

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