The Misfit Tribe and the Secret of Mystery Island by B J Rowling & D G Lloyd – A YA novel with wide appeal
This is a young adult book which manages to combine a treasure hunt, a threat from unknown pursuers, and some fascinating comments about sibling relationships, especially in the light of danger and attraction. Teenagers let loose without parental involvement is obviously a theme of one of the author’s cousin’s (yes, that Rowling) but there are no known wizards or witches present in this book, though some magic is involved of a different sort. As with the best YA books, this is apt to be enjoyed by adults of all ages. The teenagers do not always have to depend on external help; their own abilities and courage are as important to their survival as “magical, mystical powers” as mentioned on the cover. Everyone is represented here, the brave, the strong, the technical expert, the survivalist. The two girls are variously flirty and more down to earth, but they prove that they are both able and resourceful in a crisis, of which there are many packed into an adventure which sees them in several dangerous and threatening environments. There is humourous dialogue as a group of friends, including siblings, pit their wits against challenges which require all their various abilities and resources to meet. The threatening adult is typically British, with a sidekick of indeterminate origin, and there are moments of peril as he despairs of American teenagers and indeed anyone he can terrorise. Set largely on an island where mobile phones and transport cannot be depended on for answers, and wifi does not play a part, this novel manages to give a nod to simpler times, where quick thinking and sheer courage were more important. A treasure map and a journal may give all the clues needed, but they still have to be solved and followed, as well as a “ruthless villain”. As a book primarily aimed at teenagers, this was not my usual read, but it is certainly entertaining and does definitely keep moving. I was pleased to be given the opportunity to read and review a copy of this book.
This book opens with view of an American suburb where several families are preparing in various ways for a weekend away on an island. This is not to be a holiday, however, as the families are going to be competing in a “family building exercise” which offers a prize of ten thousand dollars. Digger is a teenager with military leanings influenced by his father, which means he is well equipped for the adventure. His sister Karli is a realistic and able girl, in contrast with Sandra who is more intent on her appearance and what it can achieve. Both J.J. and older brother Aaron appreciate Sandra in many ways, but when JJ discovers his family’s true problem, he seizes on a discovery of his ancestor’s experiences to seek out treasure. Together with Genius, a nervous but technically knowledgeable young man, they accidentally set off on an adventure through booby traps, challenging clues and dangerous environments. To add to the drama, a threatening baddie is in pursuit with an unwilling food obsessed teenager. Although very threatening, he is also amusing with his silent commentary on the people around him.
This is an enthralling book which maintains a rattling pace and handles unusual situations well. Worth tracking down for many readers, this is a promising book full of well realised characters with lively dialogue and fascinating situations.