When sixteen-year-old boxing champ Carl Freeman jumps in to defend a helpless stranger, he winds up in real trouble—a two-year sentence at an isolated boot camp for orphans. Carl is determined to tough it out, earn a clean record, and get on with his life. Then kids start to die.
Realizing Phoenix Island is actually a Spartan-style mercenary organization turning "throwaway kids" into super-soldier killers, Carl risks everything to save his friends and stop a madman bent on global destruction.
"Review from Ashia" By The Romance Reviews 2 years ago
Amazing and engrossing! Just when I thought I knew how the story would end, John Dixon surprised me yet again.
Carl Freeman is a sixteen year old orphan who jumped in once again to defend a stranger at a cost--he winds up in trouble and is sent to Phoenix Island, a boot camp for troubled teens. Determined to lead a new life, he tries to be on his best behavior, only to discover that Phoenix Island is hiding something sinister--that they were training kids to become mercenaries and killers...
Despite being an orphan, a promise Carl made to his father defined him--his actions, his moral compass--and may be his saving grace. Certainly, it made him into the boy that we meet in the story, a boy who channeled his aggression to save the weaker persons, who are usually the victims of bullies. Carl is a sympathetic hero; we feel for him, for his struggles, his need to do what he think is right despite the fallout to him, as he couldn't break his promise to his father. He's already a great character from the outset, but the author made him even better with his growth and development throughout the story, such that we, as the reader, also grow with him in his realizations and enlightenment.
The author certainly didn't spare him or the other characters in the story, like best friend Ross or the girl Carl liked--Octavia. What they went through, the army-like conditions, the barbaric and Spartan-like existence, the sweat box...the descriptions are so realistic that they brought vivid images to mind. Especially when Carl was being outfitted with a new brain. (Sorry, I cringed.)
The story was fast-paced, making for engrossing reading, with enough twists and turns to surprise me again and again. The ending, while unexpected, was satisfactory; a fitting ending. Of all the YA books I've read, excepting for The Hunger Games, this is the first time I hope this is merely the first book in a trilogy. I can't wait to continue Carl's story!