I received this free digital ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
Mean Girls meets Lord of the Flies in this YA contemporary fantasy.
The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous.
Renowned for its infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it.
When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing.
Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.
Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home.
Oo! I loved this world. I knew going into the story what it was going to be like (because it basically spells it out in the blurb), but the particulars of the world were ingenious! I thought I had it all figured out, and it surprised me. I appreciated that and enjoyed it.
While I wanted to enjoy this book because of the theme and the world building and the plot, the pace of the story made that quite difficult. All the character relationships developed too fast. The story line moved a bit too fast. The plot sped way up towards the end. It was like certain points/scenes were picked out of the full story and used, while the rest was pushed into the shadows, making it feel a bit disjointed and made many things feel unrealistic.
Oh, look! More tears…
Maybe I’m a bit more stoic than other people, but I don’t cry that much, and I definitely don’t cry as much as the main character. Over the course of the story (a month-ish), I think the MC cried close to a dozen times! A dozen!
I get that she suffers from anxiety, but the anxiety wasn’t what made her cry and had no correlation to it. She just cried all the time for no reason and the tears would turn on and off at the drop of a hat with very little emotional build up to the tears. This was both frustrating as a reader (and made me dislike the MC) and made it feel unrealistic and forced.
A dash of repetition
While none of the scenes were necessarily repetitive, certain phrases were used multiple times. As a result, they lost their importance. Perhaps they were trying to emphasize something, but it didn’t come across that way. Rather, it came across like the MC was forgetful and was prone to thinking the same thoughts again and again.
I think the main point of this book was that the characters had to figure out who they were, what their fears were, and find the confidence to face them. Which is great! That’s a very common coming-of-age story that many people can relate to. However, a girl shouldn’t need a boy to make her feel confident and there was a lot of that going on in this book, which I didn’t support and which dropped the book into cliche territory. Kind of disappointed in that regard.