Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: Lost Girls by Ann Kelley

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Lost Girls
Ann Kelley
Release date: July 10th 2012
by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers


No parents. No rules. No way home. 
Fourteen-year-old Bonnie MacDonald couldn’t be more excited for a camping trip on an island off the coast of Thailand with her fellow Amelia Earhart Cadets-the daughters of the men and women stationed there during the Vietnam War. But when a strong current deposits the girls on what their boatman calls the “forbidden island,” things take a turn for the worse: A powerful storm comes to destroy their campsite, the smallest of the junior cadets is found dead, and their boatman never returns. What once seemed like a vacation in paradise has become a battle against the elements.

Peppered with short, frantic entries from Bonnie’s journal, Lost Girls is a page-turning, heart-pounding adventure story about a group of teen girls fighting for their lives.

*A copy was provided by Hachette Book Group Canada for review purposes*
Do you remember Lost? During the first season when it was good all about surviving. Remove the bizarro smoke monsters and you’ve got something reminiscent of Lost Girls. When a gang of 9 kids with one adult chaperone get dropped off on the wrong island, they soon realize it’s not the paradise that they first perceived.

Off to a great start with the first 30 pages already involving a dead kid and a major storm that left them with next to nothing, Lost Girls is exciting from start to finish. Set in 1970’s Thailand during the Vietnam War, this is a story about surviving in the wild. Expect a lot of disagreements, flaring tempers, and desperation. We’ve got a good handful of characters to admire and endure in this novel. Some you will applaud, others you will want to maim. Our protagonist Bonnie is amazingly valuable to the group, even though they don’t seem to notice, let alone care. Besides being extremely resourceful and smart, her strength and determination is something worthy of praise. I loved how I could count on her; no matter how emotionally or physically strained she becomes, she keeps on trucking and that makes her positively easy to like, even easier to care if she makes it. It’s not hard to lose track of who’s who when you have over half a dozen characters that all seem to blend together, this is not the case in Lost Girls. I was pleased by how much the survivors all stand out from each other with distinguishable personalities and behaviours. I can’t say that I was especially attached to the supporting roles. I didn’t weep from certain deaths or become gripped by their individual predicaments, but I was kept completely engrossed by their overall circumstances.

It’s actually quite fascinating to learn all these facts and tricks about surviving in the wilderness. Being on a tropical island, we encounter exotic animals and insects that bring about all kinds of dangers they have to face. Infection, hunger, and dehydration are constant threats. I can’t say I was profoundly devoted to the story, though. Of course the deaths are tragic and their situations mentally taxing, but I found myself more mesmerized by their struggle to survive, more curious of the outcome, than emotionally tuned to their state of mind. For this reason I don’t look at it as a highly emotional story, but rather a tense adventure – though I can see that some may experience it differently. The journal entries that we get sporadically throughout the book make sure it’s not an emotionally passive story either. Bonnie uses her journal to write her thoughts and feelings about what’s happening on the island, letting us into her exhausted mind. This helps us get a feel of how a situation like this affects a person’s chain of thought; grief and misery make us desperate, can even turn us into someone we don’t recognize. If anything, it helps us appreciate what we have. Imagine living on only one or two food items for days, weeks.

Realistic and filled with unthinkable circumstances, Lost Girls is an inspiring story where survival is at the mercy of nature and skills. What would you do if you were stranded on a deserted island? Would you survive? 

4 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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42 Responses to “Review: Lost Girls by Ann Kelley”

  1. Nick

    This one was on WoW a couple of months ago and it looks really good. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Giselle. I love survival stories, so I might end up liking it too. With all those characters, it’s good to hear that it’s easy to differentiate between them. Would have been a head-ache for me or else. 😛
    I would probably be the first person to die if I was stranded on an island ! 😛
    Lovely review, Giselle. 🙂

  2. Sam

    I love survival stories and this sounds like a really engrossing one! It’s good to hear that all the characters were distinguishable, especially as there were so many. Plus I adore the creepy cover too. I really can’t wait to read this! Amazing review lovely! 🙂

  3. Kristina

    I would have never thought to pick up this book, but your review makes it sound so interesting. Since I completely trust your opinion, I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for the review.

  4. Amy

    This one sounds really good. I love stories about survival. (On the Island is one of my favorites!) It’s good to know that each character really stands out individually even if you don’t really connect to all of them. I think that the journal is really cool too. Fantastic review doll!!!

  5. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Ooh, LOST without all the weirdness? Awesome! Plus, I really like survival stories (hey, what would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island? BOOKS, right? Heh), though I’d probably fall down a crevice, break a leg and die pretty early on. I don’t think I have the best survival instinct.

  6. Giselle

    Thanks so much guys! It’s not that I didn’t care or connect wit the side characters, I just wasn’t emotionally invested in them as much as I was interested in their predicaments.

    @Melissa: I’m the same way I’m wary of books in the past and other countries but this one doesn’t really feel much different than a book set in the present to be honest. There’s talk of the war that’s happening but that’s it, so I think you’d still like it!!

  7. Karen

    Perfect timing! I put this on hold at the library ages ago before it was even released and I just got an email today saying that it has arrived. Now I’m excited to read it!

  8. Christina

    You had me at Lost when it was good. Plus, I totally dig survival stories, as long as the logic makes sense (Lost’s tragic downfall…well, that and killing off all of the good characters).

  9. ShreShre

    OOOHH, a survival story, haven’t read one of those since I had to read Hatchet in school 😉 But this one seems much better, trust me. I’m lovin the way you describe the main character, sounds like someone i would enjoy reading about! Thank you so much for the amazing review Giselle! 🙂

  10. Alexa

    This book sounds INCREDIBLE. I would definitely want to read it, because I think I’d be fascinated by watching this group of people attempt to survive this crazy set of circumstances they find themselves in. Thanks for the review!

  11. Melliane

    I don’t think I ever read a book like that, and I confess I don’t know what I could think about it, but it sounds also very interesting as you say for the surviving stuff. One again, I didn”t know this one so thanks for the discovery.

  12. ashelynn hetland

    I just got this one in the mail yesterday and after reading your review, I’m rather excited for it! I really did like Lost (in the beginning; it went downhill fast after that) so I’m glad to know Lost Girls is a little bit like it!

    Although, it sucks that it isn’t a really emotional read. It always sucks when you can’t be emotionally invested, you know?

    great review! 🙂

    Ashelynn @ gypsy book reviews.

  13. Camille Picott

    Ooh, this one sounds good! I love the fact that it’s set in the 70s during Vietnam. Nice change from all the other stuff we’re seeing set in the future or present day. Hopefully I will have a chance to check this one out!

  14. Shooting Stars Mag

    Ooh this does sound like one intense story! I like books like that though…makes me interested and want to keep reading, even if I’m not TOTALLY invested emotionally.


  15. Savannah Valdez

    Hmmm, I like the setting of the book. I didn’t get into the show Lost. I stop watching it cause it got confusing, too many storylines. Anyways, this book sounds good. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Tellulah Darling

    I’d like to think I’d survive but am probably kidding myself in the “everybody thinks they have good taste and a sense of humour” way. Excited to read this!

  17. Katie @ BlookGirl

    You make me want to read this book NOW! I may have to steal it from Jenni when she’s done 😉

    I loved the first season of LOST and I adore a good YA adventure story. Sounds like Lost Girls delivers! Can you _imagine_ being stuck on an island with a bunch of girls? Yikes! o.O

    Great review, muffin!

  18. Maji Bookshelf

    ooohh myy GOD! THIS SOUNDS AWESOME! I LOVE the idea!! I have never read any survival book *shame* and this will probably be my first! Im glad the characters are different, and that makes reading it even more fun! Great review Giselle!
    – Farah @MajiBookshelf

  19. Shane

    Whoa! The setting alone piqued my interest. Awesome review and thanks for enlightening me. This is so going on my tbr!

  20. Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue

    I haven’t heard of this one before now. But I think I’ll have to add it to my TBR for sure. I remember the heart-pounding early days of LOST! (I loved the finale but I know a lot of fans didn’t.) I like that you were captured by the story, and that you thought the characters were all kinda unique from one another. That’s important, and a huge task for an author. So yay! Great review!

  21. Randi M

    LOVE Lost. Well…until the final episode. So lame. Anyway, this book sounds great! Love the review! I don’t know how long I’d survive on a desert island. I guess it would depend on whether I could find fresh water and a food source. I’d probably try to build some kind of hut. Hmm..good thing I watched all those Lost episodes in case I ever get stranded lol.

  22. Danny

    I truly don’t think I would be good in surviving something like this.. BUT you grow with what is put in front of you!
    This sounds like a thrilling book!

  23. Jac

    I love Survival books! (Especially when they are well done, which this one sounds like it is!) I’m intrigued how Bonnie’s journal works into this! I think I’ll have to hunt down a copy!

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  24. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    AH! I can’t freaking wait to read this now. It sounds like I will really like Bonnie because she doesn’t whine about her situation throughout the whole book. I never did get into Lost, but I like the idea of being lost in the wilderness and how much of you have to adapt in order to survive. Great review!

  25. Candace

    I don’t think I have even heard of this yet! It sounds really crazy and good! A tense adventure? Sign me up! On my list it goes!

  26. Mel - Thedailyprophecy.

    I don’t think I could survive, actually. I would like to think that I’m really brave and strong, but I must not lie. I’ve watched a lot of survival programs, so I could try some of their tricks and tips though :p I won’t be the first one to die, but I’m definitely going down, haha.

    This sounds like a great book. I like survival books. Thanks for the lovely review 🙂

  27. Ashley R

    I feel like I haven’t seen many reviews for this, which is surprising since it sounds like a pretty good read – and I’m glad you enjoyed it! I like that you’ve differentiated between being invested in the characters and emotions versus it being a good adventure book; I’ll definitely keep that in mind when I read it. I received an ARC at ALA and wasn’t sure how to feel about it, but I’m looking forward to it now! Great review 🙂