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Phoenix Island Hardcover – January 7, 2014
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"This action-packed novel (with YA crossover appeal) combines adventure with extreme violence and concerns a young boxer sent to a very special youth boot camp.... When things come to a head, Carl finds that all of his suspicions about the island prove even worse than he thought in this crisply written and imaginative effort. Dixon’s page-turner will keep readers of all ages enthralled. A fast-paced, exciting novel with the promise of future installments." (Kirkus)
"An unusual premise makes Dixon’s thriller debut a welcome series kickoff... the pacing and smooth prose will have suspense fans waiting for the next book, as well as the upcoming CBS adaptation, Intelligence." (Publishers Weekly)
"Filled with both menace and heart, Phoenix Island stands out in all the right ways." (New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr)
"Lord of the Flies meets Wolverine and Cool Hand Luke. A tribute to the indomitable human spirit that challenges the mob and chooses values over expediency." (F. Paul Wilson, New York Times bestselling creator of Repairman Jack)
“Fast-paced and thoroughly engrossing – I could not put it down!”
(Lissa Price, international bestselling author of Starters)
About the Author
John Dixon is a former Golden Gloves boxer, youth services caseworker, prison tutor, and middle school English teacher. You can visit his blog at JohnDixonBooks.com.
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Top customer reviews
It doesn't take Carl long to make friends, especially the attractive Octavia, and it doesn't take long for all the teens to figure out this isn't a regular boot camp.
Fast paced with some great fight scenes, this book is a cross between LORD OF THE FLIES; the ESCAPE FROM FURNACE series; and THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU. The author did a good job of combining all these different ideas into a cohesive, very readable book.
I'm glad that this is a series so I get to read more about the adventures of Phoenix Island. There was no huge cliffhanger ending in this tale, which I am glad about, and I'm also glad I have the next book in the series - DEVIL'S POCKET - that I will be reading next.
There were a couple of scenes that caused my stomach to roll (and I read some pretty gritty books) so be forewarned.
My Review: Two words - Page turner. This author has a way of writing scenes so vivid you actually feel like you are there. There is a fight scene between Carl and Parker that I started reading before work one morning and I was so involved in the story I was late to work. Literally could not put the book down. I heard there was a review where a woman actually gagged reading one of the scenes, yes there were bugs involved but how well does a scene need to be written that it makes someone actually gag? To me that is fantastic writing.
Somehow before the book was even released to the public the idea behind the book was picked up by CBS for a TV show called Intelligence. While I have only seen the first episode of the show these two storied are only slightly related, they are quite different from each other. It's a shame because I think the book would make a better movie than just just using the concept of the chip implant as the show uses. I'm looking at you Ridley Scott to make some moves here...
I have had the pleasure of conversing with John over email and Facebook the last few weeks and look forward to one day meeting him in person. He is currently working on the sequel to Phoenix Island now called Devil's Pocket. You can bet that I will add that book to the top of my "to read" pile. I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.
My rating: 9
Author website: [...]
This is not the case with “Phoenix Island”. I suspect that I could hand this book off to most of my adult reading friends and they wouldn’t know that they were enjoying a novel that targets a YA market. That said, I further suspect that there would be a gender bias, regardless of age. I don’t think it’s impossible for female readers to enjoy this book, but they’ll be at the thin end of the bell curve. This is a relentlessly action-oriented, testosterone-infused adventure story set in modern times but hearkening back to classic adventure tales.
It’s pretty solidly a man book.
At a breakneck pace, Dixon’s “Phoenix Island” tells the story of Carl Freeman, a troubled teen orphan gripped by an uncontrollable compulsion to physically punish bullies of all types and sizes. And Carl is more than equipped to dole out his particular brand of justice. He’s a highly gifted boxer who holds a national title at the not-so-tender age of 16. But Carl’s taste for high-velocity, bloody justice puts him at odds with law enforcement … often.
As a matter of fact, Carl’s beat down of a high school football team is only the latest of a string of violent encounters that have caused him to transition through a string of foster homes and juvenile detention centers. But, it’s this particular beat down that gets him sentenced to do his time on Phoenix Island, a military-styled juvenile rehabilitation center on an island off the coast of Mexico, where he must stay until he is at least 18 years old.
It is in this grueling environment that he meets the beautiful-but-tough Octavia (solidly signaled from her first appearance as a love interest) and Ross, a dorky sidekick with miles of courage and a propensity for wisecracking that borders on OCD behavior. He also comes into immediate contact with the brutal disciplinary tactics of the drill sergeants, including one by the name of Parker whose attitude starts at sadistic and gets worse from there. Carl can handle the non-stop training and abuse, but he struggles mightily to control his temper and talent for violence in an environment where bullies thrive.
Over the course of the book, the true nature of Phoenix Island is revealed to Carl. It is less of a juvenile rehab center and more of a prison facility with an intensely sinister end goal embodied in the camp’s megalomaniac leader, the Old Man. Inside all the action, the novel deftly reveals Carl’s backstory and the reasons why he’s so fixated on stopping bullies in their tracks.
The book’s overall premise requires a high degree of belief suspension, but that’s okay. This is an adventure novel. As long as the ride entertains then it’s fine to give the logic centers of your brain a bit of a break and just enjoy it. That said, some of the secondary characters are at times a bit too overblown and cartoonish (perhaps even for an adventure novel). The only real foible that tripped me up as a reader is a single spot where a main character discovers critical information in a way that strains credulity and feels like Dixon needed a shortcut to move the plot forward. It was bothersome, but I got over it.
Parents of YA readers should know that “Phoenix Island” is brutally violent in places. Though, within the odd publishing restrictions of YA fiction, nobody drops F-bombs or any other bad language and there’s no sex. As mentioned earlier, “Phoenix Island” is also the first book in a series, with the next book, “Devil’s Pocket, set for release in early August 2015.
Yes, I’ll review that book as well.
For current readers, though, it means you have precious little time (mere days) to get caught up with this very worthwhile series from John Dixon. And I recommend that you do.
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