When kids awake on an island, they’re told there was an accident. Before they can go home, they will visit Foreverland, an alternate reality that will heal their minds. Reed dreams of a girl that tells him to resist Foreverland. He doesn’t remember her name, but knows he once loved her. He’ll have to endure great suffering and trust his dream. And trust he’s not insane. Danny Boy, the new arrival, meets Reed’s dream girl inside Foreverland. She’s stuck in the fantasy land that no kid can resist. Where every heart’s desire is satisfied. Why should anyone care how Foreverland works? Together, they discover what it’s really doing to them.
(Excerpt from GoodRead)
I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of Tony Bertauski or his book before Tuesday when a friend of mine (Jessica Ramirez over at The Lovely Books) asked me to read it. I read the blurb on Goodread and was convinced this would be a book I would enjoy.
The cover is ominous. The bright, bold red really pops out at you from the metallic gray, and if that’s not enough, the title makes your curiosity tip its head.
The book starts off with Reed, then jumps to Danny (Danny-Boy). This continues throughout the book, back and forth between the two boys and the horrors they must face on an island filled with young boys and old men (are you getting the creepy vibe here too? Yeah, I had that a few times throughout the story). The first few chapters, I was expecting a lot of child abuse to happen; why else would these creepy ‘investor’ guys trap all these young boys on some island to participate in a warped game of The Hunger Games meets Maze Runner?
All right so let me start off by saying that this book reminded me a lot of The Maze Runner. Young boys locked away to face several horrific ordeals before being chosen ‘winner’ or in this case, be ‘Smoked’ There are no girls in the beginning, except the redheaded girl Reed keeps seeing in his dreams and then Danny meets while in the Haystacks.
I liked Reed. Maybe I’m just severely emo, but I love sullen, brooding boys with sharp tongues and a bad ass attitude. He was the only one who stood up to the Director (Fartsy old man) and his investor, Mr. Smith (I’m telling you, investors or not, rich or not, these dudes were creepy in a way that made me want to take a shower, but I think that was the author’s intent).
I can’t say I thought much of Danny at the beginning, although, I did open up to him much more throughout the novel as his story unfolded. But truly, my affections lay with Reed.
The story was fluid, moving quick, yet pleasantly descriptive. I find when some authors start describing, they go to far, rattling on about every detail, but not Mr. Bertauski. The story flowed smoothly, broken only randomly with the odd grammatical error, but it was easy to overlook when you wanted to get to the next part. I think the only problem I had with any of it was the transition from Danny to Reed. It was sometimes quick and unexpected and I was never sure whose story I was reading.
Nevertheless, it was an exciting read. Every chapter brought to mind a question that made me want to keep reading to get answers. The ending was painless (meaning, I wasn’t left feeling like I had a hole in the head or like I had the floor yanked out from under me. It’s a good thing, I assure you. I hate abrupt endings). I knew what happened. I had some, not all, the answers to my questions, and those questions left unanswered will no doubt be answered in a second book? (assuming Mr. Bertauski will be making a sequel). I know I can see it. But even if he doesn’t and this is the end, it was an enjoyable read.
Will I read the next book? YES.
Will I tell my friends about this book? Yes.
Did I enjoy it? Yes.