The teens enrolled in 'The Natural Path'--a school for device-addicted kids run by the smooth but vaguely sinister Dr. Zarkov--quickly find out when the school turns out to be nothing but a front for an elaborate kidnapping plot. Trapped on a remote tropical island and facing what looks like certain death, they will have to band together if they hope to defeat their ruthless captors. But it will still take all their ingenuity just to survive...
A realistically detailed and thrilling story by novelist P.D. Quaver which will appeal to young adults (13 and over).
My Review: When I was asked to review this, I was very hesitant. I really had to think "Do I want to read and review a book that's for a starting age of 13?" Once I got started, I was quickly sucked in. It kind of reminded me a little of the Hunger Games, in that it's a group of kids on an island fighting for their lives...although the difference here is they aren't fighting one another, but adults.
The story starts out with a group of eleven kids named Max, Bone, Samuel, Tommy, Ernesto, Wolly, Mickles, Agatha, Nootan, Bella and Monique that all have one thing in common, they spend their lives on computer/electronic devices and their parents are sick of it! One day in the local paper, an ad appears for a three week camp called "The Natural Path." Dr. Zarkov, Miss Hess and two men the kids quickly nickname Stalin and Scar-face claim to help middle school age kids get over their electronic addictions. One of the stipulations for this camp is that none of them are allowed to have any of these devices with them. So at the beginning they are all taken away. The kids have no idea how they will survive without said devices...but they will find out just how well they do get along without them very quickly.
A summer camp that gets kids away from the computer/cell phone/video games? Sounds like a dream to most parents out there! So of course the parents of these eleven teenagers jump at the chance to have a normal kid. Not one that spends hours on end wasting their life away. They say their goodbyes and off they go. They are taken to, what they thought would be their home for the next few weeks. Little did they know a change was coming.
It was early in the morning when they were all woken up by Miss Hess and one of the men carrying a gun. They rushed everyone out of their rooms and into a small plane. Now they were being blindfolded with tape over their eyes and their hands bound together. They were being kidnapped. But why? Why would someone want a group of kids and where on earth were they going? After hours of being on the plane, they finally landed. They were all thrown in a cell with some air mattresses, blankets and a bucket of water to flush the toilet. One small window was their only connection to the outside world.
As the days go by, they get to know one another pretty well. They were all sharing one small cell in, what they figured was an island somewhere off the coast of Africa. They also learn that they have been kidnapped so Zarkov and his team can blackmail their parents out of money. All the kids there were rich and Zarkov knew that so he had come up with a way to get millions. The only problem was, one of the kids there wasn't rich. His dad had lied to get him into this camp. Max just knew that once they found out, he was dead. He would be no use to them since they wouldn't be able to get the amount of money they wanted out of his family. Also, Agatha has diabetes and needs her insulin. They try and tell Miss Hess when she brings them food but she doesn't seem to care. So they get creative and a few of them prick their fingers and write a message on a paper plate in blood "Dr. Zarkov Agatha needs insulin or she will die." When the leftover food was picked up, all the kids felt really hopeful that the Doctor would get the message and Agatha would get what she needed. Their hopes were lifted even higher when Dr. Zarkov visits them and tells Agatha that he will get it for her...the next morning. Of course he will send for the insulin! They wanted Agatha alive so her parents would send money, right? The girls take turns taking care of Agatha and using the water out of the bucket to wipe her face to try and keep her fever down. The next morning they woke up with hope, but that quickly faded when Max realized that they should have heard the plane take off already. It never does and as the day wears on, it becomes apparent that the insulin is not coming. The kids do everything they can to keep Agatha comfortable but ultimately, she dies. Why would their captors allow her to die?? The only conclusion is that the Doctor and his goons did't intend on keeping any of them alive.
After Agatha's death, the kids get a plan together to get themselves out of the cell they've been locked in. They start a fire and wait for one of the guards to come unlock the door. Once he does, they quickly use a brick to knock him out. Only, it kills him. Mickles, grabs the guards gun and heads for a bungalow. It's where Dr. Zarkov and his team have been staying so the obvious conclusion would be to scare them into contacting someone to come get them. Only, when Mickles confronts them, he didn't count on having a gun pulled on him as well and he had no choice but to shoot. He kills the Doctor and Miss Hess. Now, there's only one other adult out there and they need to find him before he gets a chance to get to them first. They have an encounter with the other guard and he ends up dying as well. I'm purposefully not going into many details so you can get them from the book!
As the days and weeks go by and the kids learn to survive on the island, they learn to catch fish, get along and take care of each other. All the while thinking that they are stuck and coming to grips with the fact that they might never get off the island. They try and make the best of things but before long, they are faced with the fact that they want to go home and will find any means necessary to get there. With a story full of action and adventure that will appeal to an adult audience as well, you will find yourself pulling for these kids to figure out how to survive and get home. Click here to purchase on Amazon.
*I will say that even though this says it's for a starting age of 13, there were quite a few bad words in it that I wouldn't want my young teen reading. There was also some pretty graphic death scenes in the book so I would recommend a parent read the book before allowing your child to read it.