Phoenix Island
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Phoenix Island

3.82 (1,375 ratings by Goodreads)
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WINNER OF THE BRAM STOKER AWARD FOR SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A YOUNG ADULT NOVEL John Dixon's critically acclaimed Phoenix Island reads like "Lord of the Flies meets Wolverine and Cool Hand Luke" (F. Paul Wilson, creator of Repairman Jack). For fans of The Bourne Identity, Alex Rider, and Melissa Marr. The judge told Carl that one day he'd have to decide exactly what kind of person he would become. But on Phoenix Island, the choice will be made for him. A champion boxer with a sharp hook and a short temper, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman has been shuffled from foster home to foster home. He can't seem to stay out of trouble--using his fists to defend weaker classmates from bullies. His latest incident sends his opponent to the emergency room, and now the court is sending Carl to the worst place on earth: Phoenix Island. Classified as a "terminal facility," it's the end of the line for delinquents who have no home, no family, and no future. Located somewhere far off the coast of the United States--and immune to its laws--the island is a grueling Spartan-style boot camp run by sadistic drill sergeants who show no mercy to their young, orphan trainees. Sentenced to stay until his eighteenth birthday, Carl plans to play by the rules, so he makes friends with his wisecracking bunkmate, Ross, and a mysterious gray-eyed girl named Octavia. But he makes enemies, too, and after a few rough scrapes, he earns himself the nickname "Hollywood" as well as a string of punishments, including a brutal night in the "sweatbox." But that's nothing compared to what awaits him in the "Chop Shop"--a secret government lab where Carl is given something he never dreamed of. A new life...A new body. A new brain. Gifts from the fatherly Old Man, who wants to transform Carl into something he's not sure he wants to become. For this is no ordinary government project. Phoenix Island is ground zero for the future of combat intelligence. And for Carl, it's just the beginning...show more

Product details

  • 12-17
  • Hardback | 309 pages
  • 160.02 x 231.14 x 30.48mm | 476.27g
  • SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Gallery
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • 1476738637
  • 9781476738635
  • 710,182

Review quote

"Fast-paced and thoroughly engrossing - I could not put it down!" --Lissa Price, international bestselling author of Startersshow more

Review Text

"This action-packed novel (with YA crossover appeal) combines adventure with extreme violence and concerns a young boxer sent to a very special youth boot camp.... When things come to a head, Carl finds that all of his suspicions about the island prove even worse than he thought in this crisply written and imaginative effort. Dixon's page-turner will keep readers of all ages enthralled. A fast-paced, exciting novel with the promise of future installments." New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr Kirkusshow more

Rating details

1,375 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 28% (386)
4 37% (510)
3 26% (363)
2 6% (84)
1 2% (32)

Our customer reviews

Phoenix Island by John Dixon is the terrifying story of what happens when sixteen year old boxing champion Carl Freeman gets sent away to a camp for juvenile delinquents. Unfortunately for him, the camp is run by a bunch of psychotic soldiers planning on taking over the world, and they'll do anything, including murdering the teenagers in their care, to accomplish their goals! Phoenix Island reminds me of a movie I watched once, Boot Camp, with Mila Kunis and Gregory Smith. That movie has stuck with me since I watched it because of its sheer brutality. It's what made me have to read Phoenix Island after reading the synopsis. And Phoenix Island pulls no punches when it comes to brutality. The kids on Phoenix Island are abused and beaten and brainwashed to become killing machines. They are taught not to think and are threatened if they don't follow a command. They're threatened if they do follow a command. Phoenix Island is full of nothing but pain, torture, and injustice and it's really hard to read about at times. The novel is full of abuse and death and horrible acts of violence, and not one of the adults sees any of it as wrong. But that's what makes you have to keep reading. You have to see how these teenagers, these children, will survive when the whole world is against them. Carl, despite being a fighter who is sent away to a reform camp for bad kids, is sort of the opposite of a bad kid. He's a kid who's had a hard life, a kid who could whine about how unfair it all is, but doesn't. A kid who's got enough training behind his punches to do all sorts of damage, but instead only uses his fists on bullies. He's a kid who only wants to help people, and he's sent to a place that only wants to hurt people. He's a true hero in a land of villains and someone you can root for. Octavia surprised me in this novel. Usually the girls in these sorts of stories come across hard and bitter, but Octavia, for all her strength and courage, was never bitter or hard. Sure, she had times when she felt like she was slipping in that direction, but she never gave in. Never let her circumstances get her down. I loved that we got to see her point of view in this story. I wasn't expecting it, but I loved reading her chapters just as much as I loved Carl's. There were many other side characters throughout Phoenix Island that I came to like, even love. There was Ross, Carl's friend who was more comedian than soldier. The older boy, Cambell, who was only in the book for a short time, but was a great friend and ally. Especially since they were in a place where allies were few and far between and sticking your neck out for someone else might just get it chopped off. Medicaid, a poor boy who was bullied to the brink of insanity. I felt so bad for poor Medicaid. He wasn't brave or strong or fierce, but he deserved to not be tormented the way he was. A lot of the focus in Phoenix Island is put on bullying and the effects it can have when left unchecked and it is severely disturbing. Medicaid's character was a great example of how bad bullying is and what can happen when adults look the other way. Phoenix Island is actually the inspiration behind CBS's new hit drama Intelligence, starring that other guy who was once trapped on an island, Josh Holloway. Love him, but haven't seen the show yet. I've heard it's really great, but has been reworked so much that it has little to do with the novel anymore. I will be watching it at some point, just to see if anything from Phoenix Island remains in the series. Inspirational, yet terrifying, Phoenix Island is not for the faint of heart. It's full of non-stop cruelty and violence from the very beginning. But, if you can stomach brutal beatings, torture, giant insects, shark attacks and many other things I won't be listing for fear of spoilers, then, at its heart, Phoenix Island is about a bunch of teenagers trying to survive an impossible situation and I highly recommend it.show more
by Pretty In Fiction
Phoenix Island is billed as young adult, but this cross-over debut novel is one for any reader who loves action, nuance, a character-driven plot (yes, in SPITE of all the action) and rooting for the underdog in the face of overwhelming odds. Carl is the orphaned son of a police officer, a championship boxer who finds himself in a string of foster homes, moved from state to state, until, at 16, he once again beats up a gang of bullies and faces the end of the line - a stay until he is 18 years old - at Phoenix Island, a seemingly military-style boot camp for troubled teens. Once Carl arrives at Phoenix Island, he finds that it is an isolated place outside of the United States, surrounded by a forest populated by wild pigs and shark-infested ocean waters. In spite of his resolution to remain "invisible" and to stay out of trouble, he manages to catch the ire of a particularly vicious "drill sergeant" named Parker as well as a group of gangbangers. Eventually, he runs across a secret journal written by a former teen "soldier" that makes him realize that the suffering he has experienced and seen done to others is only the tip of the iceberg. If, as a reader, you think to yourself, "Well, thrillers and action aren't really my cup of tea", think again when it comes to this book. As I read, I experienced so many emotions - the enjoyment of a story well-told, agony at the unfairness of the situation Carl and his new friends find themselves in, knowing that some of the things portrayed really happen and not being able to hop into the pages to make it stop. Your heart will absolutely drop in places. When you meet the Old Man, Commander Stark, you want to like him, and blame everything else on some misunderstanding, just like Carl does, but as a reader, there is foreboding in these pages - you just know with a sinking, creeping feeling that all is not as it seems. I fairly FLEW through these pages, filled with a moving motion picture in my brain of the island, the kids, the sergeants, the commander, and the mysterious doctor at the "Chop Shop". The book is totally engrossing, rolling along at a clip that had me looking at how many pages were left and regretting that I was so close to the end. I've seen this one compared to Lord of the Flies and to The Hunger Games by some. For me it brought to mind the horrors of The Island of Dr. Moreau totally revamped with modern technology and world domination fanatics. This is an absolutely stunning debut novel - one that would be a fabulous ride for almost every reader. With room left for a new installment, I sincerely hope to see more of Carl, his friends, and even creepy Commander Stark. QUOTES: You are all orphans. Why had they taken only orphans? He thought of the kick he had received, the rough handling of Davis. He glanced around. Here they were, on Phoenix Island, somewhere outside of the United States and its laws. We're as dead to the world as our parents, Carl thought. These people can do anything to us. . . . teachers told you bullies were insecure and cowardly, and, sure, some were. But guys like Decker, guys who got that look in their eyes, were neither insecure nor cowardly, and they weren't acting out for attention. Guys like Decker were confident and tough and mean to the core, and they hurt people because they liked causing pain. "He considers himself a musician of pain. A maestro. Pain is his piano, and the victim's nerves are his piano strings." Great, Carl thought. I threatened to break his nose. BLOGGERS: Have you reviewed this book? If so, please feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments section; I will also add your link to the body of my review. Writing: 4.5 out of 5 stars Plot: 4.5 out of 5 stars Characters: 5 out of 5 stars Reading Immersion: 5 out 5 stars BOOK RATING: 4.75 out of 5 stars Sensitive Reader: Probably not for you; portrayals of violence and implied violence. Book Club Recommendation: Yes; depending on whether all book club members can take a grim and gritty portrayal of a camp filled with teens subject to horrid conditionsshow more
by Julie Smith
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