The Castaways

A well-written and engaging story about the power of family and the will to survive.

Book title

The Castaways

Author

Lucy Clarke

Standalone or series

Standalone

First time reading this author?

Yes

Why I picked this

Mystery and potentially murder on a remote island. It sounded like an easy and enjoyable thriller read.

Review copy or purchase

Thank you to the author, publishers Harper Collins and online book club The Pigeonhole for the opportunity to read this book for free. This is an honest and voluntary review.

What it’s about

Erin and Lori are best friends as well as sisters. When their dad died suddenly leaving them alone Lori moved Erin in with her boyfriend, who later became her husband, so they could be together. When Lori’s marriage broke down she moved in with Erin sure that she could take refuge in the safe hold of their family.

But even close sisters argue, and when Erin and Lori have a big blowout while on holiday in Fiji, and Erin decides to miss the plane ride to a smaller island the next day, it means only Lori is on the plane when it crashes, and Erin is the one at home spending two years trying to find out exactly what happened to her sister.

Review

There are no polar bears or mysterious hatches, but I couldn’t help think of TV show Lost whenever the action moved to the survivors on a remote island. Because not everyone died in the crash. That’s made clear in the first few chapters (and also is indicated by the title of the book). But, we know something happened to them, because two years after the crash the only person who seems to have made it off the island is pilot Mike Brass who then went into hiding working on a resort under an assumed identity. It is only when Brass is rushed to hospital in the end stages of a terminal illness, that his identity is known. Prompting Erin to fly back to Fiji to see if she can get the truth out of him about what happened to her sister.

Meanwhile the reader is finding out exactly what happened through chapters from Lori’s perspective in the lead up to and the events immediately after the crash. With the story coming together as Lori’s adventures on the island comes to an end, and we wait with Erin to find out the end of Lori’s story.

This is a well-written and engaging story. Erin and Lori are each sympathetic characters in their own way, although Erin’s self-absorption means I did find her annoying at turns. Her determination not to share what she finds out or ask for help moves the plot along, but reduces her character’s likeability. The scenes on the island are gritty. There’s a real sense of danger throughout. Food is limited, and Lori’s fellow castaways all have secrets to hide. It’s clear that they couldn’t have survived as they were for the whole two years, which means there’s always the question of what happened. How and when did the pilot get back to civilization? Why didn’t he tell anyone who he was? Did anyone else survive, and if not what happened to the crash survivors to prevent them leaving the island.

There’s a little bit of a rush in revealing part of this explanation towards the end, a very suddenly different perspective on a character the reader didn’t really get a chance to know previously in the book whose actions helped create the entire situation. But, generally it’s a satisfying ending to a story about two sisters and their love for each other.

Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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