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.
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?
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