Adrian McKinty’s The Island is an audacious, breathless, pulse-pounding survival thriller that’ll have readers biting their nails to the quick as they race through its pages to see who makes it out alive.
An idyllic working vacation to Australia turns holiday from hell when a family from Seattle ventures onto Dutch Island in Victoria, where trespassers aren’t so much prosecuted as they are, well, executed by the close-knit and sadistic clan who calls it home.
The family in question consists of father Tom, his new wife Heather, and his adolescent children, Owen and Olivia. Although Tom’s in Melbourne for a medical conference, he agrees to play tourist for a day to gratify his kids and possibly ease some of the tension between them and their step-mum.
Things go wrong when they’re persuaded to visit the off-limits Dutch Island, accessible by a privately-owned ferry, and are involved in a tragic accident that turns the locals against them. Separated from Tom, hunted in an unfamiliar landscape in temperatures soaring far beyond survivable, the wellbeing of Owen and Olivia falls into the hands of Heather ― ostensibly a harmless massage therapist, but armed with unexpected gutsiness and resilience, and a mysterious past.
Like its predecessor The Chain, this is a turbocharged blockbuster: the kind of thriller you binge in one sitting. The tension here is thick, and the suspense is unbearable; you’ll feel your heart palpitating as things go from bad to worse, and the family’s odds of survival steadily worsen. But The Island is not without emotional substance: this is the story of a beleaguered stepmother thrust into the role without forethought. And for a book that definitely falls into the category of popcorn entertainment ― in the best possible way ― it asks probing questions on morality.