When it comes to novels, imagery is everything. What an author uses to make the reader hear, smell, taste, feel and believe the story he or she is telling is crucial to a books success. And John Dixon, author of the upcoming Young Adult action-thriller Phoenix Island, couldn’t have brought a more vivid story to life had he actually lived the island life of his characters.
Carl Freeman, a 16-year-old orphan will a boxing championship and a nasty (albeit heroic) penchant for intervening in the name of the bullied, finds himself on the wrong side of the law once again. And this time, he’s been sentenced to Phoenix Island, a remote military-style boot camp until his 18th birthday. But the island holds deadly secrets that not even Carl can protect his fellow campers from.
Dixon brings Carl’s world to life with an entrancing mix of color and violence that will leave readers weary, yet desperate to turn another page. And the deeper and deeper visitors dive into the twisted nature of Phoenix Island and its inhabitants, the more they’ll begin to question just who to trust.
And the resident hero of the tale won’t be the only character who tugs at readers’ heartstrings. There’s Ross, the wise-cracking sidekick who’s possibly the bravest of them all, and Octavia, the beautiful young girl with a secretive past all her own. And to every group of do-gooders, there has to be a villain. Dixon introduces The Old Man to readers in a way that sometimes brings up the question “Is he really all that wrong?”
With plenty of room left for a continuation, Phoenix Island is worth the read. And here’s a word of advice. If the ending seems a little less than satisfactory (like it did when I finished,) let it sink in for a day and then revisit. You just might be surprised by your conclusion.
Phoenix Island will be available on Jan.7, published by Gallery Books. Visit Dixon’s website here, and make sure to check out Intelligence on CBS, a show inspired by the novel!