Scar Island

256p. Scholastic. Jan. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781338053845.
Gr 5–8—Gemeinhart gives readers a poignant, action-packed story with references to classics Robinson Crusoe and Lord of the Flies. Jonathan Grisby is the newest kid to be sent to the remote island fortress Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys. Run by the Admiral and a small group of surly men, Slabhenge reforms boys through hard work, squalid living conditions, and the constant threat of bodily punishment via a torture device known as the Sinner's Sorrow. When a freak lightning strike kills all adults on the island just a day after Jonathan arrives, he convinces the other boys to stay, free from adult interference. They call themselves the Scars, unable to be picked off and thrown away like the scabs of society. When tough guy Sebastian declares himself the leader and becomes a punitive dictator, Jonathan and the other boys who oppose Sebastian find themselves in danger. A storm threatens to sink the island, and Jonathan must confront his troubled past and become the leader the Scars need to survive. Gemeinhart creates a compulsively readable story with enough teasers to keep the mystery alive until the very end. The plot is not too dark and is suitable for middle graders as well as for young teens. The bond between Jonathan and Colin, another boy on the island, is the shining star of the novel, showcasing empathy and demonstrating Gemeinhart's emotional range. This is an unflinching salute to friendship and redemption.
VERDICT A heartfelt tale, recommended for most middle grade collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing