Cover Image: The Island

The Island

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Member Reviews

I found this book hard going and really just kept going to find out what happened. Too slow to start with and the very interesting premise is oddly carried out and very bogged down in detail.
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This was a very good read, tense to the last full of twists and turns. It drew me in from the start and held my attention throughout. I wanted to continue reading too but unfortunately life got in the way. The story and plot line wasn't hugely unexpected. I had a strong idea from the offset that it would be based around a similar storyline to the Norway shooting. Nevertheless it make for interesting reading and I would highly recommend this book. The characters were well written and highly plausible, the story was well edited. I really enjoyed it.
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We are given a bombing and then a serious attack on children and adults on an island in Norway, where a family who initially believes that their eldest daughter has been killed only to be missing. The story highlights many things throughout including how this kind of atrocity affects a family especially when not knowing one way or the other may be worse than knowing that their child is dead or alive. It starts off at a good pace however like real life ,after six months (the middle of the book) it slows down and then picks up again in the latter parts when the trial begins.  A family who believes itself to be strong and parents who think that they know their children, find out how fragile life is. Trust and betrayal feature a lot in the book and as the reader you are thrown from one thought to the next in the matter of a page!  A semi Scandi-noir with a touch of Scottish thinking makes this a very readable book and certainly one which raises a few moral dilemmas too. 
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC to review.
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There are many aspects of this book that I liked, and a few that I wasn’t so keen on. 

I love books set in places other than England, particularly based around wilderness, mountains etc, so on a Norwegian Fjord gave the book a head start in my eyes.

I loved the intrigue during the first quarter of the book. 

I struggled with character connection. I didn’t feel any particular care towards any of them, and never felt they were fully formed. 

It was slow at times - and I felt the ending wrapped up far too quickly. 

There were too many ‘lose threads’ and pointless parts of the story - all leading up at a short, sharp climax that left me wanting to feel satisfied but not quite managing it 

I did like the premise and thought it covered some brave topics such as terrorism, radicalization and racism - but it was fairly weak overall 

** I’ve heard this author has written some previously fantastic books though so I will 100% give an earlier book and future book a try, but this one just didn’t hit the spot for me **
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This is an interesting tale set in Oslo and covers the massacre of children and adults at a summer camp by two men dressed as policemen. The novel covers the aftermath of this event including the family of a girl who is missing presumed dead. It is thought provoking and covers some difficult subject matter which some people may find difficult. I did struggle to be sympathetic to the Curtis family despite their loss of Alicia. They have too many half truths, suspicions, secrets and antagonisms to be truly likeable

Thank you netgalley and Harper Collins for my ARC copy of this novel
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This is my first read by Ben McPherson and I was drawn to it by the synopsis and cover. It starts off well but ultimately I found it to be slow paced and just couldn't engage with it. For me, the writing didn't flow and I found it stilted. 
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital ARC.
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This book has been completely and utterly impossible to put down. I have been completely gripped, suspicious of all the characters involved and completely unable to predict where this book was going. This is well-written, completely addictive and all round a wonderful gem. I absolutely recommend this book. 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction for the arc of The Island by Ben McPherson.

4 star read- I cant tell you what happens you need to find out for yourself as it will wreck you and spoil to much but such a gripping and interesting read, gripped from start to finish i highly recommend to all who love thrillers but wow just wow! 

⭐⭐⭐⭐
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SPOILER FREE REVIEW!
I got to read this book through NetGalley and I’m very appreciative for the chance, thank you.  
This book is out now and is from Harper Collins UK, HarperFiction. 
I don’t want to give anything away for this book so I’ll just tell you how I feel about it.   
I’ll start with my only negative.  I kind of knew from the blurb but reading this really bought home the similarities between this work of fiction and the Norway shootings back in 2012. I can’t ignore this. It didn’t take from the story for me and you could say it raises awareness and is helping people remember, BUT I can’t help but wonder how I’d feel if I were affected by the Norwegian mass shooting, or any real mass shooting I guess. So I’d put a trigger warning for that I think.  
Other than that I really really enjoyed this story!  I read for hours (I’m a slow reader) and just enjoyed the building tensions and twists and turns, but it didn’t feel slow at all. The descriptions of Norway were great, I’d love to visit the country one day... The characters were all flawed in some ways but aren’t we all? It made them more real for me.  I particularly enjoyed Viktoria and her relationships with her parents.    
I definitely recommend you read this book!
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3.75*
A new to me author. 
A psychological thriller set in Oslo about a summer camp for teens on a island. It turns into a nightmare 2 gunmen from a white supremacist group start shooting. 
As the parents are waiting for news, some are relieved that their children are unharmed, some get them worst news, 91 young lives lost. Cal and Elsa are left in limbo, as Licia is missing. The story is told is told from Cal and Elsa’s perspective. 
They start delving into their daughters lives, and discover lies and secrets, most disturbing is their other daughters (Vee) behaviour. There is so much hurt and anger. Their lives are unravelling as we read. It tugs on your emotions. I felt the most real reaction was from Vee. 
My first thought is that despite the author being British it  feels like I’m reading a Scandi translation, it has that clunky feel that puts me off reading Scandi. I didn’t really gel with the writing style. 
It has a slow steady pace, the emotional portrayal kept my interest. 
It is a book that made me think, I really liked the story line,I would have preferred the beginning half to have more pace. I think it lacked tension at the end, the events unfolding felt a bit flat. The ending lifted my score, more for the events than the portrayal.
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Shocking , violent and full of twists and turns . Betrayal is at the heart of this novel and serious suspense , will keep you up
At night !
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A brilliant story that kept me up way past my bedtime . The writer has a very original and fresh way of telling a story . I absolutely loved this book and this story will stay with me for a long time !! A must read !!!
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This book was different to what I was expecting, but also different to anything I’ve ever read before. 

This is a psychological thriller that follows a family whose world is about to be turned upside down. Their oldest daughter is on an island attending some sort of young person camp, when all of a sudden they get attacked by terrorists. Meanwhile on land, the parents are near Oslo and a bomb has gone off there. We enter a world of confusion, grief and radicalism.

I think this book contains a lot of valuable discussion points, of which I can’t raise or I would ruin most of the plot. It really made me think though, and meanwhile I did not see all the twists and turns that happened, if any actually. 

Sadly this book suffered from lost and draggy middle. It felt like the author just got lost for a bit in the middle portion, things got dull and I had to force my way through. The start was amazing and the end was good and unexpected. It’s such a shame the middle let it down for me.
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The Island by Ben McPherson was published on January 7th in paperback format (originally published in HB and digital format Aug 2020) with Harper Collins and is described as ‘a gripping psychological crime thriller’. Set in Norway it is the story of one family and how their lives were ripped apart by a series of very unexpected and shocking events.

Scottish born satirist, Cal and his Norwegian wife, Elsa had arrived in Oslo for a six month stint with their three young children, shortly due to return to their life in Washington DC. It’s summertime in Oslo and their eldest Licia is away at a summer camp on a small island off the coast of Oslo. A bomb ripping through a building in the town centre sends shockwaves through the city but it is what follows that truly horrifies a nation. Gunmen alight on the island where Licia’s camp is being hosted and mercilessly open fire on teenagers. The death toll is staggering and a community mourns. For Elsa and Cal, their life is turned upside down. When the bodies are repatriated onto the mainland, families grieve for the lives lost, young lives viciously hacked down by madmen. For Cal and Elsa, their journey is only just beginning. Licia’s body is not among the ones retrieved. Where is she? What has happened to their quiet and beautiful daughter?

A camera crew who managed to film some of the terror live from their helicopter appear to have caught footage of a young girl who looks just like Licia. This girl was witnessed as saving others and putting her own life on the line for many. To Cal and Elsa, and the world, Licia was a hero. Hashtags appeared on social media praising Licia for her courage and strength and, although difficult for Cal and Elsa to accept, it appeared that their daughter was never coming home.

Their younger daughter, Vee, a tech whizz, carries out her own bit of research and raises questions about the events on the island that day, very pertinent questions. With the gunmen now awaiting trial, Cal and Elsa want answers, and want them fast, prepared to step outside their comfort zones, if need be, to uncover the truth about what really happened that day.

Cal and Elsa have a fractured relationship and the cracks begin to show as their search for answers continues. Not the most likeable of characters, the reader is left wondering, at times, who is hiding something and is it connected to Licia’s disappearance? Vee, their young daughter, is depicted as someone far older than she is. Her attitude and general demeanour were quite worldly for one so young, a bit too savvy in my humble opinion. Not liking characters never deters me from enjoying a novel. If anything, it can sometimes add an extra layer of credibility to the story but something felt very off with many of the cast in this story. I read translated Nordic Noir/Scandi books and, perhaps, this is where the issue lies for me. The Island is not a translated work, as the author is English, but it feels like an attempt at making it appear so. When reading translated works one of the many joys for me is how I become immersed in a very unfamiliar world, with perhaps a different turn of phrase and always atmospheric descriptions that transport me to, quite often, remote and stark environments. I wasn’t transported to Oslo reading The Island, as I found it challenging to visualise the settings. I had very little empathy for Cal and Elsa and found Vee’s character to be totally exaggerated.

So overall what did I think? The premise of The Island is very good. It’s dark and unsettling depicting how the mind can be bended to the will of others when the end justifies the means. It is full of some downright subversive and nasty characters that do get under your skin with other individuals leaving you perplexed as to their innocence until the final pages.

I’m going to have to remain on the fence with this book as having not read the author’s previous, and very well acclaimed work, it may just be that this one book didn’t work for me.
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When I read the synopsis of this novel it took me straight back to Anders Breivik, the far right terrorist who planted a bomb in Oslo and attacked a children’s camp on the island of Utoya, shooting dead 69 people. This was such a shock back in 2011 and something that has stayed with me ever since. I wondered wanted to see how the author explored the subject of an attack like this, such an emotive subject when the victims are children. I’d read Rosamund Lupton’s Three Hours at the beginning of last year, and her tale of a school shooting was a fantastic read so it thought it might be interesting to read a different take on a similar subject. Just like Breivik’s attack this one starts with a bomb in Oslo and a couple who hear the news, followed by breaking news of an attack on a small island where their daughter Licia is attending a camp celebrating International Future Females. What was a piece of disturbing, but distant, news is now an awful lot closer to home. So, although this shares its DNA with a real event, and is a terrible act of violence, this is really a story about family. 

Licia’s parents are Elsa and Cal. Cal is Scottish and Elsa is Norewegian, and the family are spending six months living in Elsa’s home country after a time spent in Washington DC. They have another teenage daughter, Vee and a baby son called Franklin. Their daughter Licia is listed as missing and this book follows the family coping in the aftermath of the terrorist incident. It explores their relationships, and how they are changed and tested by the events on this day. They soon find out that camera footage from a helicopter above shows their daughter still alive in the water, but as stories come out it sees she was shielding other people and saved one little boy’s life. She has unknowingly become the hero of the island for putting others before her own safety. The family are very well drawn, three dimensional characters. Cal is very warm, funny, and has an obvious love for his family. Elsa is more blunt and a comes across as a little bit cold in parts, I don’t feel I fully know her throughout the story. She has quite set ideas about how people should behave but is very closed off herself. Call’s easygoing nature becomes clear in the investigation. He uses humour to deflect confrontation or deal with difficult situations, but as the narrative goes on we can see a sense of isolation building in him. He feels very aware that he is not Norwegian when dealing with the police force, who keep referring to him as English and he doesn’t seem to feel he can correct them. He has a good personal relationship with the Police Chief, but it isn’t helping the search for his daughter and he doesn’t want Licia to be let down by them, or by him. We can see how a strong family can be slowly pulled apart by such a terrible tragedy. 

This is a very timely novel. I read it over Christmas and made notes to review when I had more time. Since then, events in America have brought this more to the forefront of my mind as I wonder whether a white supremacist might commit a similar atrocity at the inauguration or beyond. Could it even happen here? I don’t think we’re as far away from it as we like to think. The author cleverly shows how even the most ‘normal’ family can be affected by targeted grooming, usually online, causing young men to commit atrocities in the name of an ideology they would never have learned about in their family. The sense of unease in the novel comes from knowing that we too could be affected, by either side of this type of incident. It’s hard to be the parent of a lost child, but it’s also hard to be the parent of someone who commits that atrocity. This was a great read, and a glimpse into how far hate can go. I will be looking back to his previous novel after reading this.
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I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it as it kept me guessing until the end, read it one sitting as couldn’t leave it down x
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Cal and Elsa’s worst fears are realised when a nightmare scenario takes place on an idyllic Norwegian island. Two gunmen start shooting indiscriminately at a group of teenagers who are attending a summer camp. In the aftermath of this appalling national tragedy, Cal and Elsa discover that their daughter, Licia, is not amongst the survivors. Gradually, over the course of the story, it becomes more and more clear that there are deadly secrets to be revealed about just what happened to Licia.

The powerful first chapter is dark and complex and sets the scene for a tense family drama. The author writes well, and keeps the suspense high, thus bringing to life a nightmare set of circumstances which reveal a family in chaos. There are so many secrets between them that the investigation becomes like slotting together a jigsaw puzzle as Cal and Elsa desperately try to piece together flimsy fragments of information about what could possibly have happened to their daughter on that ill-fated summer day.

The Island is an intelligent and thought provoking read which shows the deep cracks which can appear inside a family who, on the surface, seem to know everything about each other, and yet when it comes right down to it, they know absolutely nothing at all.
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I can't put my finger on it, but there's just something about this book that I struggled to connect with. The pacing was a bit slow, the story didn't really go anywhere, and I didn't feel connected to or interested in the characters. All of this combined to make a rather uninteresting reading experience, which is a shame as the synopsis did sound good. 

I think part of the issue is the way the book is written. Due to it's writing style, I mistakenly assumed that the book was originally written in Norwegian, as it reads very much like a poorly translated novel. Not that I have an issue with translated novels - I personally love a good Scandi thriller, and I do tend to enjoy the writing style in these novels; however, we all know that it depends on the strength of both the book and its translation, and I have had previous experiences when I struggled to connect with a book on the basis of its translation. And so, I was willing to put my lack of engagement with this book down to a similar thing. So I have to admit I was very surprised when I realised that the book was in fact originally written in English. As such, I can only assume that the author intended to mimic the writing style of a Scandi Noir, and that that is perhaps part of the reason for its stilted and unusual tone. 

All in all, this one just wasn't for me. However, I've seen other reviews note that his previous work is stronger, and so I would be willing to try another of the authors books. But unfortunately, this one is not one I can recommend. 

Disclaimer - I was fortunate enough to be provided with an advance reading copy of this book by NetGalley. This has not affected my review in any way, and all opinions are my own.
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A good thriller but for me, it just didn't have enough to keep my attention the whole time. It was also just quite sad at times!
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loved this authors first novel so I was very much looking forward to this one and it didnt disappoint.

The Island is a claustrophobic thriller come family drama that opens with a horrifying act of violence, giving the reader a bird’s eye view as it unfolds. From then on in it is a mystery that is extremely entertaining whilst asking a lot of relevant questions about society today.

A deeply moving and cleverly woven tale of heroes and villains, of family secrets and obscured truths, The Island manages to be a thought provoking tale and becomes more of a page turner as it goes. It also has the benefit of an ending that may keep you up at night wondering about your own moral centre.

Overall a really terrific read. I have no problem highly recommending it.
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