Four kids are sailing in the middle of nowhere with their uncle and his friend. Vanessa is the oldest, her younger brother Buzz would rather be anywhere else (preferably somewhere with a tv and no seasickness) and they can't imagine ever being a family with their new siblings, arrogant, athletic Carter and his super-smart little sister Jane.
Then their boat wrecks, the adults are swept away on their only lifeboat, and the four kids are stranded on a tiny island. Will they learn to work together to survive, or will risky decisions, arguments, and the natural dangers that surround them take them down one by one?
This isn't great literature. The characters are one-dimensional, identified mostly by a single characteristic (Vanessa - bossy; Buzz - tv/games obsessed; Carter - athletic; Jane - child prodigy) and there are several info dumps and passages about mechanics of things (fixing a solar panel) that I found boring. The writing is rather bland.
It will check out like crazy. Is the writing as good as, say, Gordon Korman's adventure stories? No. But it's exciting, kids like the informational spots, and it's got enough family drama to keep those not interested in survival stories reading.
Verdict: Great literature? Nope. A fun, fast-paced story that will appeal to a wide range of readers? Yes. Bonus, it's less than 200 pages (you can purchase the first three volumes in one book, but I think that kind of defeats the purpose). If you have all Gordon Korman's adventure series and need more - and who doesn't? I recommend this series.
ISBN: 9780142424247; Published 2013 by Penguin; ARC provided by publisher at ALA; Added to the library's order list