I’m afraid that I can’t exactly sing this book’s praises. Okay, so the concept is interesting: a plane crashes, on a desert island, and the only survivors are a group of British schoolboys, who have to fend for themselves, and wait for rescue. The boys quickly lose interest in constructive survival techniques. They let their signal fires go out, they only half build shelters, they stop collecting fresh water. Instead, they swim and play and build sandcastles and eat fruit from dawn til dusk.
The power struggles on the island are interesting from a psychological perspective, but the more dramatic group actions are somehow too extreme and don’t ring true for me. I couldn’t invest myself enough in the story, because I just didn’t believe it.
Meanwhile the writing completely alienates me. Take this extract: ‘The line of phosphorescence bulged about the sand grains and the little pebbles; it held them each in a dimple of tension, then suddenly accepted them with an inaudible syllable and moved on. Along the shoreward edge of the shallows the advancing clearness was full of strange, moonbeam-bodied creatures with fiery eyes.’ This is meant to be description, and somehow it doesn’t tell me anything. It doesn’t conjure any images in my mind or remind me of anything – it just leaves a big fat blank in my brain.
I raced through this; perhaps if I’d read it more slowly and savoured it then I’d have got more out of it. Unfortunately, this reading just left me unmoved and ultimately quite bored.