Original review posted here: http://www.yourentertainmentcorner.com/?p=31747.
I am so excited to review this book simply because the author chose to publish the book herself (which has since been picked up by Plume Books), and most self-published books are less than exemplary—at least the ones I’ve read. While On the Island
isn’t perfect, the story is engaging and unconventional, and the writing isn’t overcomplicated.On the Island
tells a story that stays with you. Of course, upon first reading the blurb, you might think it’s going to have a major ick factor. But it doesn’t. Garvis Graves does an excellent job laying the foundation for Anna and T.J.’s relationship. To put your minds at ease, know that their relationship doesn’t get physical until he’s almost 19. I know how important that is to readers who have issues with adults taking advantage of underage youth where sexual relations are concerned. Once that hurdle is crossed, you can rest assured that the focus of the story is on the two people who have to endure hard times and come out with hope that all will be well in the end.
What I love most about the book is its pragmatism. Granted, some events may not seem realistic (I scratched my head at the bags of toiletries and other necessities washing ashore), but for the most part, I bought what Graves was selling. Not only do we get a feel for what it would be like to be stranded on a deserted island (and it ain’t nothing like most people’s fantasies), we see how the castaways live and how the lives of their loved ones are affected by their situation. Half of the story is focused on the island and the developing relationship between Anna and T.J. The other half deals with their lives back in the world they were ripped away from almost four years prior.
Graves makes readers laugh, cry, and fall in love with these characters. As their time on the island progresses, they grow, and we grow right along with them—from their reemergence into society to figuring out what their future as a couple holds for them. As expected, when they get back to civilization, questions arise about the physical relationship between them and when it started. I’d love to know if the two would have been given such a hard time about being together if things were reversed with T.J. being the adult. I think an older woman with a younger man is still seen as more of a faux pas, IMHO. The subject matter is handled well and isn’t sugar coated or swept under the rug hoping to be forgotten. Graves does something with this story not many authors do: she remembers everything and brings us back to things we may have long forgotten about. Every loose end is tied up with the story ending on a more than happy note. I rooted for the two protagonists all the way until the final page and felt the ending was resolved to my satisfaction. I’m a hopeless romantic and that’s the part of the story that drew me in.
I can say I’ve been swept away to a beautiful island, swam with dolphins and survived gruesome circumstances without having left my living room. Graves gives us two interesting characters from start to finish. They are strong in ways you don’t expect and even more of a force to be reckoned with when together. Their love is one that couldn’t be denied and I can’t wait to read their story yet again. As a debut novel, it leaves me wondering how the author will perfect her craft and what other stories she has yet to tell. Oh, I can’t forget to mention On the Island
is going to be made into a movie. I’ll be curious to see how the piece is transferred to film.