Phoenix Island

by John Dixon

Book Summary

Carl Freeman is a 16-year-old boy who has bounced from foster home to foster home and has been arrested quite a bit in his life for only one reason: he beats up bullies when they pick on weaker kids.  He is a boxer, so when he beats up kids, they usually get really hurt, and he ends up before a judge.

The last judge he stands before ends up not sending him to jail or letting him go, but rather he sends him to Phoenix Island, which is a sort of "teen boot camp."  The boot camp is run by cruel drill sergeants, who not only stand by when teens are getting beat up or victimized, but are often the ones doing it.

Carl realizes something is off with this island, and does what he can to survive and play the game.  There are very exciting "fight" scenes, but with a budding love interest thrown in as well.

     They can shoot me through the bars of this sweatbox or hang me from the flagpole or throw me to the sharks, but they cannot make me cry or beg. I will not show them weakness. I will stay strong. If they kill me, they will remember my strength; I will force them to live with the memory of my strength forever.

      And if I live, I will escape from Phoenix Island, and I will tell the world. I will bring these people down.

Why I liked this book. . .

Phoenix Island intrigued me on a few levels.  The main character Carl Freeman is very likeable, but is also really tough and respectable.  I enjoyed the fight scenes and the premise in general intrigued me the entire time.  I read the book in a weekend because I wanted to know what would happen next.  It's shocking how cruel humans can be to one another, but it's also heart-warming to know there are still people out there who stand up for the "little guy" and who stay true to their own convictions.

“You could describe Phoenix Island as Lord of the Flies meets Wolverine and Cool Hand Luke. But at the racing heart of this compelling, action-packed novel is something too rare in modern fiction: a tribute to the indomitable human spirit that challenges the mob and chooses values over expediency. Read it.”
—F. Paul Wilson, creator of Repairman Jack

Clip from Lord of the Flies that shows how evil children can become when left alone or encouraged by others, which is also what happens in the novel.

This quote from Wolverine reminds me of how Carl felt at times in his life.  However, on Phoenix Island he embraces who he is and uses this to fight for his friends and for what he believes in.

Clip from Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman that shows the cruelty of a security guard at a jail, which is very similiar to the cruel behavior of the drill sergeants in the novel.  Plus, this is an iconic clip from an iconic film that you should all know.

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