IT WAS JUST SUPPOSED TO BE A FAMILY VACATION.
A TERRIBLE ACCIDENT CHANGED EVERYTHING.
– The Island
[ About the Book ]
After moving from a small country town to Seattle, Heather Baxter marries Tom, a widowed doctor with a young son and teenage daughter. A working vacation overseas seems like the perfect way to bring the new family together, but once they’re deep in the Australian outback, the jet-lagged and exhausted kids are so over their new mom.
When they discover remote Dutch Island, off-limits to outside visitors, the family talks their way onto the ferry, taking a chance on an adventure far from the reach of iPhones and Instagram.
But as soon as they set foot on the island, which is run by a tightly knit clan of locals, everything feels wrong. Then a shocking accident propels the Baxters from an unsettling situation into an absolute nightmare.
When Heather and the kids are separated from Tom, they are forced to escape alone, seconds ahead of their pursuers.
Now it’s up to Heather to save herself and the kids, even though they don’t trust her, the harsh bushland is filled with danger, and the locals want her dead.
Heather has been underestimated her entire life, but she knows that only she can bring her family home again and become the mother the children desperately need, even if it means doing the unthinkable to keep them all alive.
[ My Review ]
The Island by Adrian McKinty was published May 17th with Orion and is described as ‘a pulse-pounding, high-concept new thriller from the author of the instant Sunday Times bestseller The Chain’.
Tom and Heather Baxter are newlyweds. Tom had two children with his previous wife, Judith, who passed away and he is now married to Heather. Heather is much younger than Tom, less worldly in her ways, and his kids, Owen and Olivia, have little time for Heather. They are impatient and quite rude to her, but she is prepared for this and ready to do the work to get them on her side, eventually. She is conscious of the gap in their lives following the untimely death of their mother and knows that trust needs to be developed over time. When Tom mentions an overseas work opportunity to Australia, it seems like the perfect way for the family to bond if they all travelled with him. Tom would be attending conferences. leaving Heather the quality time needed to work on her fragile relationship with Owen and Olivia.
Tensions run high during the trip and Heather soon realises that Owen and Olivia just have no respect whatsoever for her, no matter what she does. Tom is persuaded, against his better judgement, to take some time off so the family can drive further into the Australian outback hoping to catch sight of a kangaroo or a koala bear. A chance meeting with some locals results in the four taking a ferry to the remote Dutch Island in the hope of a more exciting adventure and some better photo opportunities. But the adventure soon turns sour, following a terrifying accident, and they find themselves fighting for their very survival in a deathly cat and mouse game.
I have not read a book by Adrian McKinty but I have heard his name mentioned often as a writer to look out for. I was excited when I saw the descriptions of ‘propulsive and terrifying’ in relation to The Island but, unfortunately, the only feelings I got were frustration and total incomprehension. The premise initially attracted me, with the idea of this family trapped, fighting for their survival on an isolated island off the Australian coast, but not one bit of it made ANY sense to me.
Here is a father, with a new wife and two children, who firstly throws his toys out of the cot when he gets told that he cannot get the Porsche he wants for the duration of their stay. He then later accepts a ferry ride from two clearly creepy characters to an island with no connection to the outside world, with said Porsche containing him and his family to see koalas in the wilderness. I mention the Porsche because its lack of certain sensors was clearly instrumental in their future troubles! The folk living on Dutch Island are the O’ Neills, with the matriarch still having a touch of the Irish accent in her speech.
‘There was a strong hint of Ireland in Ma’s voice. She must have come over here as a little girl. The matriarch of Dutch Island was not the descendant of some isolated inbred cult of pagan idol worshippers. She was just another immigrant trying to make good in a big country’
Quite a clan, with their crazy, dysfunctional behaviour, savage-like in every way, this island commune lives according to its own societal rules, ones that are dystopian and completely beyond disturbing. Uncivilised and totally barbarian, the O’ Neills’ behaviour challenged my imagination to the extreme.
Tom Baxter is a weak, weak character and suddenly Heather Baxter turns into Katniss Everdeen (think The Hunger Games) while the two children STILL do their homework! Bodies are dropping in violent circumstances and the local ex-RUC (yes this is true) resident turns a blind-eye to the goings on and…and there is a horse called Pikey! And do not get me started on the dialogue….
I clearly did not get on well with The Island but looking at all the four and five star reviews elsewhere it appears I am in the minority. There are plenty who mention the 1972 movie, Deliverance, as a comparison, but, as I haven’t seen it, I cannot comment on that. I rarely, if ever, write such a negative review but I invested my time in reading The Island, with the genuine hope that it would improve and become the thriller it deserved to be, but alas for me it just did not work in any small way. Disappointed but c’est la vie.
[ Bio ]
Adrian McKinty was born and grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland during the Troubles of the 1970s and 1980s. His father was a boilermaker and ship’s engineer and his mother a secretary. Adrian went to Oxford University on a full scholarship to study philosophy before emigrating to the United States to become a high school English teacher. His books have won the Edgar Award, the Ned Kelly Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award and have been translated into over 20 languages. Adrian is a reviewer and critic for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Irish Times and The Guardian. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.