In Bruck’s debut novel, three teenagers shipwrecked on an island must use their intelligence and bravery to find their way back home.
Daniel White is a talented 13-year-old athlete at Los Angeles’ Thomas Jefferson High. When the principal announces that all students are eligible to apply for the upcoming Youth Olympic Competition in Sydney, Australia, Daniel and other students clamor for the chance to try out. Through a combination of luck and perseverance, Daniel and his two friends, Amy and Tammy, are selected for the trip. Unfortunately, their class rivals, a trio of mean-spirited students, are chosen as well. The adolescents board the Queen Victoria and begin their Olympic training while at sea. However, a violent storm interrupts their trip and cracks the ship in two, separating Daniel and his friends from their peers. The main trio is stranded on the isolated island called Pacifia, where they meet a native tribe whose customs, traditions and scientific understanding draw on Eastern and past Western European influences. Daniel and his friends must collaborate with their new allies if they hope to make it home. Bruck’s novel is well-paced and engaging throughout. The dynamic between the young Americans and the native tribe is portrayed somewhat stereotypically at first, with the natives bowing down in awe to the power of modern Western weaponry; the non-English speaking natives even revere their part-British, English-speaking members. However, the relationship that develops between the adolescents and the tribe becomes more thoughtful and sensitive as the story goes on, with the teens learning new lessons from the natives. Although the good and bad characters are clearly delineated, players on both sides have flaws and strengths that make them relatable. The characters’ youth and the nature of their adventure make the novel most suitable for a young teen or preteen audience.
An appealing YA shipwreck story.