Olive Maxi Gagmuehler lives everyday in fear of being tortured by a trio of mean girls at her school causing Olive to suffer from anxiety attacks. Olive in a way blames her parents for her name that is just asking to be made fun of in her opinion. But as much as Olive wants to avoid the torture of the trio she loves her little brother and promises to take him to the Castaway Carnival that is visiting town.
The Castaway Carnival however comes with it’s own stories that would put fear into anyone. Over the years there have been kids that have gone into the corn maze only to never be seen again with no clue of where they had gone. Olive had vowed to go nowhere near the maze but when her trio of tormentors again attack Olive finds herself running for safety into the maze only to find herself far from home on a strange island with other kids that tell the same story of running away from something only to now find themselves trapped.
The Castaways by Jessika Fleck has been described as a young adult fantasy that is a bit of a mix of ‘Mean Girls’ meets ‘Lord of the Flies.’ Now when starting out this read it was clearly obvious how it was compared to Mean Girls, the trio that are bullying Olive in the story are completely despicable and even tested my gag reflex with some of their torture. I felt so sorry for poor Olive having to live with this daily and couldn’t help but wonder just where the adults or anyone for that matter were that could help her.
Now as far as Lord of the Flies I haven’t read the book myself but I do know enough about it that I can also see the comparison there too. In my mind though being a huge Peter Pan fan and having read tons of retellings there I kept thinking of the island as a sort of Neverland. The kids that have traveled there never age and have split into two groups that are at war with one another. Olive finds herself with the group of good kids and determined to help them win the war and find a way home.
During the story I got to see Olive find herself and grow from the bullied scared girl that she had been before arriving on the island. The author also did a wonderful job of making the entire group of characters on the island come to life and make you care about what happens to each of them unlike some stories that the side characters never really stand out.
In the end this was one young adult fantasy that was fast paced, which I enjoy, and full of great characters and an action packed, intriguing plot.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.