Phoenix Island-John Dixon
"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."
I was just not the target audience for this book. I felt like I was reading a bit of Lord of the Flies translated into a more modern YA feel with a somewhat puzzling mix of dystopia and “our society”. Everything just seemed to be an extreme stereotype of itself. The leader is A LEADER. The protagonist is really AN OUTLIER. The villians are really EVIL. The island is really ISOLATED. Life is really BRUTAL and VIOLENT. Obviously I enjoyed it enough, my disbelief was definitely suspended, to read to the end but the dedication to violence was hard for me to swallow and endure at times.
Nevertheless I recognize this was a strong novel. It is clearly aimed more at the male segment of YA who is so rarely written for and as such, it is definitely a triumph. Carl is a good protagonist-he is strong, develops into a different person under circumstances, and he has compassion to temper his violence. Dixon lets his own boxing experience shine as Carl's fighting calculations are brilliant and show an attention to detail that you don't often get from YA.
So even though it was not for me, it is a strong enough book that I'd recommend it to others.