Inspired by The Lord of the Flies, Prasad’s debut novel for teens features a diverse cast and a good measure of drama.
This allegorical story begins as its protagonist, mixed-race (Indian/white) Samantha Mishra, regains consciousness on an unknown island after a plane crash. She quickly reunites with her white best friend, Mel, and then with other classmates from her elite boarding school. Together, they reel under the pressure of survival. They think they’ve created a utopian paradise, but it quickly regresses into dystopia due to mutiny and disagreement. Flashbacks to Sam’s dysfunctional family life and her identity struggles are deftly woven in throughout the story. The motley teen crew is quirky yet predictable in many respects. They include a white dude, a Latino boy, a timid Asian—all of whom are also of mixed heritage to a greater or lesser extent—three other white girls, tomboyish white girl Mel, and a bossy, privileged Indian girl, Rittika, and her twin brother. They each respond differently to the issues of survival, courage, and fear. Prasad explores the power dynamics among the teens using an interplay of various influences such as wealth, upbringing, coolness, looks, talent, and self-confidence. She also provides a fresh perspective on issues of racism, class, and identity, with Rittika celebrating her dark skin and creating a “Golds” vs. “Pales” divide with her white classmates.
Gripping, though dark and unbelievable at times. (Fiction. 12-17)