The story that inspired CBS TV’s Intelligence. Phoenix Island was supposed to be a boot camp for troubled children. But as one boy learns, the secrets of this jungle are as vast as they are deadly.
When sixteen-year-old boxing champ Carl Freeman jumps in to defend a helpless stranger, he winds up in real trouble—a two-year sentence at an isolated boot camp for orphans. Carl is determined to tough it out, earn a clean record, and get on with his life. Then kids start to die.
Realizing Phoenix Island is actually a Spartan-style mercenary organization turning “throwaway kids” into super-soldier killers, Carl risks everything to save his friends and stop a madman bent on global destruction.
What the blurb of this book doesn’t tell you is about the character of Carl himself. Either that, or my eyes just passed over the words “helpless stranger” when I read it for the first time, because I definitely did not expect the kind of person Carl was. You don’t realize it until you actually go through the first chapter or so, but Carl is not a bad guy. Not one of those “at the wrong place, at the wrong time” kind of people either. He’s someone who just sticks up for the weak. An antithesis of a bully, I guess you could describe him as. He’s polite, kind and smart.
For me, if this book didn’t have Carl in it and instead had a much weaker hero who had a much less moral, much duller mindset, I feel like this book would’ve been okay. I loved the elements to this story and the way all the different genres came together to tie in to the ending and make the middle extremely strong. Not to mention the fact that the fight scenes were written incredibly well. But Carl was the meat of the story. I completely did not expect him and his voice to pack so much power into this story.
I was really impressed with how Dixon took advantage of his major characters and the setting they were in at every single moment. I did feel like sometimes his minor characters were neglected at times, but I could forget that while I was busy watching Carl and the other major characters to this story.
I did really like the way this book ended, though I felt something more could have been had with Carl. Who knows, maybe John Dixon will bring him back or mention him and the affairs in PHOENIX ISLAND in another book (hint, hint).
I feel like all the nitpicking I did to this book can and (hopefully) will be fixed through the TV series. Like how Spies and Prejudice, as much as I didn’t like it, got me into watching Veronica Mars again–I feel like this book will really shine as it’s played off in INTELLIGENCE. I feel like teenagers and adults alike will really find a lot in this book that they enjoy and I highly recommend it to anyone that’s even slightly interested. There’s just so much more to books than blurbs cover… Looking forward to seeing how the TV show turns out! 4.5 stars.
pg count for the hardback: 320
[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]