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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2008
I was not aware that this book had come out and when I saw it at Borders I immediately scooped it up. After being thoroughly entranced with Ms. McMahon's previous effort "Promise Not to Tell", I knew I would love this book as well. She has such a knack for fluid story telling, extremely well fleshed out characters and an uncanny ability of being able to draw you in from word one. Her subject matter is disturbing but that's life as we know it. This is a little slip of a book, only 255 pages but it is jam packed with suspense, atmosphere and plot twists that are sometimes slowly revealed and sometimes thrown right in your face. Had I the time I would have devoured this book in one sitting. I will again be waiting eagerly for the next Jennifer McMahon. Do not miss this author.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2008
Rhonda Farr is 23 and on her way to a job interview. Rhonda is sitting in her car outside Pat's Mini Mart in Pike's Crossing, waiting to fill her car up with gas. Trudy Florucci pulls up and runs inside the Mini Mart, leaving the motor running and Ernie, her little girl in the car. A gold-colored VW pulls into Pat's Mini Mart, driven by a large white rabbit. Before Rhonda can get over her shock at seeing a rabbit driving the VW, Ernie has jumped out of her mother's car and rode off with the rabbit. Rhonda is guilt ridden because the child has disappeared, and she took no action whatsoever to try and stop the abduction.

Pat, the owner of Pat's Mini Mart, has set up a "Find Ernie Headquarters." Rhonda is one of the volunteers. The disappearance of Ernie has caused Rhonda to take a trip back to her childhood and memories of Peter, Lizzy and Tock, her childhood friends. The group built a stage and produced Peter Pan. Rhonda's family and the families of her friends gathered for social activities. Thinking of these times reminds Rhonda of many mysteries in the past. The disappearance of Peter's father, as well as that of his sister Lizzy, is a memory Rhonda dwells on.

Island of Lost Girls is a book full of suspense and heartbreak. It is also a peek into the wonderful imagination of children and their private little world. The ending is shocking, sad and happy, too. I would highly recommend this book.

Armchair Interviews agrees.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2011
I heard great reviews for this book and was severely let down by the juvenile writing and story line. I felt like I may have enjoyed this book at a younger age, but this book was definitely too easy of a read for me. I felt the story line was immature and predictable, the ending was forced, and the characters were not developed. I would advise the writing of this book to be suitable for a young adult novel; however, the story line is violent and grim and would not advise anyone to pick this up. Definitely not worth the ten dollars on the Kindle.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2009
Island of Lost Girls is a well-written, light read and certainly has the "I'll just read another chapter" quality about it. But, while most mystery/suspense type novels rely on some coincidences, here they are just too unbelievable and contrived to be a credible story and ultimately this detracts from the book.

Rhonda lives in Vermont and is on her way to a job interview when she stops at the local garage to fill up her car, only to witness the bizarre sight of a person dressed in a full rabbit costume approach another car, knock on the window, and kidnap the young girl while her mother is inside buying lottery tickets. Rhonda is so shocked she is paralysed and after is filled with guilt that she did not do anything to intervene. As the village mobilises to search for the girl, Rhonda takes it on herself to volunteer in the search process being run by the owner of the garage, Pat, and her nephew Warren (yes, really, he's called Warren!).

But the bunny fixation does not end here as we discover that when she was a child, Rhonda's best friend also went missing and there is back story that at least begins with an Easter Bunny-led egg hunt in the days before her best friend (Lizzy), and her father, went missing. Holding the two stories together is Lizzy's brother, Peter (yes, as in Peter Rabbit, who coincidentally is how the missing girl in the main story refers to her abductor), who Rhonda has had a severe crush on since childhood even though he is now married. Could the stories be linked? Could Peter have abducted the little girl? What went on with her parents and could Peter really be more than her childhood friend? With all the name puns, it's a wonder Starsky and Hutch weren't called in.

The structure of the book is alternate chapters of Rhonda's efforts to solve the current mystery together with chapters in the run up to Lizzy's disappearance. Certainly everyone in Rhonda's world seems to have some dark secret, and she comes over as naiive and seems to just accept things at face value.

Don't get me wrong, it's a light, quick and fun read, well written, would certainly keep you entertained for a few hours and overall I quite enjoyed reading it, but it's just too full of coincidences. Ultimately though I found that I couldn't get emotionally involved in what has the story to be an involving and disturbing event. Nothing is what it seems in this story and as a result you lose the attachment and start to not believe anything that is written. I finished it and thought "is that it?".
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2008
On the surface, this book is about an abduction and the search for a missing girl. The sole witness to the kidnapping is Rhonda, and as she tries to help find the kidnapper (who was dressed in a bunny suit at the time), she recalls a summer of her childhood a few years before her best friend also went missing. This summer was a turning point in her childhood much more than she knew at the time.

Both stories, past and present, are tragic enough. But I think neither is really the point of the book. To me, the point of the book was how very little in Rhonda's life is as she thinks it is. She begins to learn this during that one summer, but the full import of what was going on around her doesn't become clear until the hunt for the child she saw kidnapped is almost over.

And it's not that Rhonda's purposely deceiving herself, either in the past or in the present. But there are definitely things going on around her that she's not aware, and secrets that are being kept from her. Told in the third-person, but entirely from Rhonda's perspective, McMahon reveals these secrets in a slow but satisfying way.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
While on her way to a job interview in Pike Crossing, Vermont, Rhonda Farr stops at a gas station. While waiting for service, she sees a mother enter a convenience store while her daughter Ernestine talks to a white rabbit who came up to the car. Mesmerized Rhonda freezes while the rabbit takes the little girl with him into another vehicle and drives away. Rhonda snaps out of her paralysis and tells the cops what she witnessed.

Pat of Pat's Mini market where the abduction took place sets up in the store a center to coordinate people who want to find the girl. They get residents to look for her and hang up missing posters; volunteers man tip hotline phones. Rhonda tells her friend Peter what happened; he informs her that he was incommunicado when the rabbit did his deed. The evidence points to Peter as the kidnapper; no matter how hard she tries to reach him, Peter refuses to confide in Rhonda until she gives up on him and goes to the cops. That proves the catalyst for all hell to break loose with Rhonda's life in jeopardy.

As with PROMISE NOT TO TELL, Jennifer McMahon provides a strong suspense thriller with realistic characters whom readers will feel they know. Running parallel with the present investigation are flashbacks to the disappearance of the father of Rhonda's best friend Lizzie in 1993 after wearing a rabbit's costume and three yeas after that Lizzie. The present crime brings back the as filtered through Rhonda's memories. ISLAND OF LOST GIRL is a tense mystery that grips audience from the initial appearance of the rabbit and never lets go until the readers feels they entered the rabbit's hole.

Harriet Klausner
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2008
I liked Promise Not To Tell so I was looking forward to this book. I sure don't get the positive reviews of it. The plot is clumsy and filled with bizarre coincidences (the bunny thing for starters) that go unexplained. The bunny device seems to be there solely so the author can return again and again to the annoying, clumsy, overdone 'down the rabbit hole' metaphors. The characters are flat and Rhonda comes off as way too much of a loser to be sleuthing around and putting anything together. In fact, every character is just pathetic and unlikeable in some way. The dream and art stuff feels like the bad idea of an author who couldn't think of how to advance her story in any other way. Worst of all, the tone is hardly dark and haunting. I found it told in a brisk, odd voice that was devoid of emotion, pathos, or turmoil and I had to be constantly told how badly Rhonda felt about letting the kidnapping happen, because the author sure didn't show it. The character was completely flat. It seems more like a sketch for a novel than a fully developed work. I hope McMahon makes it out of her sophomore slump next time around. Almost any paperback mystery off the discount rack reads better than this book. I'm actually sorry I paid for it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 25, 2008
I read PROMISE NOT TO TELL, and liked it somewhat, so I thought I'd give this one a try. I couldn't have been more disappointed.

I thought the characters were boring and unbelievable and the story, quite frankly, stupid. I'm sure it must be difficult for a writer to come up with ideas to write about, but come on, a child abductor wearing a rabbit costume? In broad daylight? In a convenience store parking lot? Driving a gold VW? Seriously?

There were far too many convenient plot points in this book as well. More than once I found myself laughing at events that were just a little to convenient to the story. Also, there was some repetitiveness in the writing that I found really annoying - It seems the author found "Rhonda nodded" to be a quite a favorite.

To be fair, I've read worse books, but still can't recommend this one.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2010
I'm not entirely sure how I got through this book. It is so terrible that I'm absolutely mystified as to how it got published and how it has ended up with so many positive reviews.

The plot is contrived and unrealistic, the characters unlikable. As other readers have mentioned, the rabbit metaphors were extremely annoying and called attention to the book's lacking narratice. Speaking of the narrative, the book's primary plot is abandoned about halfway through the novel, and never given even a token resolution, let alone the attention the end of a missing child plot deserves.

The plot is replaced by the dark childhood secrets of the adult characters, which are so obvious that their revelation is meaningless. Each of these childhood secrets has been explored at length fiction and misery memoirs alike, and Island of Lost Girls fails to add anything new or interesting to the discussion. Note to author: A character must be developed beyond a stilted, cardboard cutout before we care about what happened in her childhood.

Note to readers: Avoid this silly book. Comparisons to Gillian Flynn are in error. Flynn has mastered her characters' voices and those little details that make them human. McMahon was too busy thinking of Peter Rabbit metaphors to make Island of Lost Girls worth reading.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2008
Rhonda Farr, 23 years old and on her way to a job interview in her Vermont hometown of Pike's Crossing, stops at Pat's Mini Mart ostensibly to fill her gas tank. In actuality, she is hoping to run into Peter, the childhood friend she has always loved. Peter works in Pat's garage, and seeing him there beats having to endure the frustrating experience of viewing him in the bosom of his happy family, including his wife, Tock, and his little girl, Suzy. At the gas pump, though, Pat's husband Jim informs Rhonda that Peter took the day off.

Trudy Florucci pulls up to the store, leaving her second-grade daughter, Ernie, in the car listening to music. Jim runs into the store to wait on Trudy. As her gas tank fills, Rhonda nervously anticipates her job interview. She's distracted when a gold Volkswagen Beetle pulls up; she knows the vehicle belongs to Peter's mother-in-law, who continually gloats over how happy Tock is with Peter. Rhonda sinks down into her seat, hoping to remain unnoticed. But then the VW driver door opens and a giant white rabbit steps out.

The rabbit hops, jerking its head, and almost appears to be looking at Rhonda with its big plastic eyes. It nods at Rhonda and hops over to Trudy's car, knocking on the window behind which Ernie sits. Ernie smiles at the big rabbit, rolling her window down to touch it. Then she unbuckles her seatbelt, takes the rabbit's paw in her own hand, and walks with it over to the gold VW where she gets into the passenger's seat. Rhonda just gapes as the Volkswagen drives off.

Soon, though, Rhonda is explaining to the police why she did nothing as someone in a rabbit suit abducted a little girl. It's hard to explain, even to herself. She would describe herself as a practical, active person who always knows what to do in any situation, but for some reason she had felt mesmerized by the white rabbit. Understandably, Trudy is beside herself. She can't imagine who would take her little girl, or why. She even accuses Rhonda of being involved in the kidnapping. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials search the area while the store's owner efficiently sets up a search center.

Rhonda can't help but remember another person in a white rabbit suit, back when she and Peter were younger. Lizzy, Peter's sister and Rhonda's best friend, was also there. Peter and Lizzy's father, Daniel, had been the one in the suit, helping the children collect Easter eggs. But that was before the kids put on the play "Peter Pan" and Daniel mysteriously vanished, followed years later by Lizzy. Although Lizzy then sent postcards home to tell her mother and brother that she had joined her father, questions about their abrupt disappearances and Lizzy's frequent odd behavior have niggled away at Rhonda for years. Now, as she discovers clues that she believes will lead her to Ernie's kidnapper, she also grapples with understanding those long-ago mysteries, even as she strikes up her first true romantic relationship with Warren, Pat's nephew and a fellow volunteer at the search center for Ernie.

A heartbreaking and haunting masterpiece, this book teases readers with an almost painfully slow unveiling of puzzle piece clues. The atmosphere is dark and sinister while the plot twists and turns and tantalizes. Author Jennifer McMahon's understated writing packs an emotion-laden wallop. I can count on one hand how many times any book has truly frightened me, but ISLAND OF LOST GIRLS caused my heart to race and my breath to catch. I was afraid to keep turning pages, yet couldn't resist reaching the conclusion where the puzzle pieces finally fit together, forming an unpredictable and satisfying ending.

--- Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon
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