Monday, June 18, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart. Unabridged audiobook on one MP3 CD. 6 hours and 42 minutes. Read by MacLeod Andrews. Scholastic on Brilliance Audio, 2017. 9781536681796. (Own)

Twelve-year-old Jonathan Grimsby sits handcuffed in a boat speeding across the choppy sea on a chilly evening. He's seasick and scared and the pilot of the boat isn't helping things by taunting him about the evil place he's about to enter. Slabhenge is a stone reformatory that sits on a rock of an island off an un-named coast. It used to house an insane asylum; but Jonathan doesn't care. When Jonathan is ushered into the headmaster's office. He's made to kneel on a device called a Sinner's Sorrow, which, after a few minutes, causes the kneeler to suffer excruciating pain. But Jonathan doesn't care. The next morning, all the boys are trooped up to the roof to stand balancing in the pouring rain. Again, Jonathan doesn't care. He feels he deserves everything he's getting. 

What terrible thing did Jonathan do to land in Slabhenge? The reader does not find out till the very end of this Holes meets Lord of the Flies thriller. Often over-the top but nearly constantly suspenseful, readers are quickly drawn in and ignore the plot holes. Well, young readers do. They drove me a bit berserk. That said, I booktalk Scar Island like crazy for my tweens who like gothic suspense and plot-driven books. 

One of my favorite narrators performed this one. His many voices and brilliant pacing kept me involved; though I figured out Jonathan's crime well before the reveal. Enough clues were sprinkled throughout that observant readers will too.

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