YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Island Sting by Bonnie Doerr
Publisher: Leap Books
Publication Date: January 6th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Bronze star (2.5/5 stars)

Synopsis: Kenzie Ryan’s New York know-how and private girls’ academy education prove useless in the middle of an island wildlife refuge.

Upon arrival in the exotic Florida Keys, she is thrown into the midst of an ecological mystery involving the endangered Florida Key deer. How can she navigate this upside down world? A world deftly maneuvered by Angelo–island native and nerve-wracking hunk. The two team up to accomplish what perplexes law enforcement, but Angelo exposes Kenzie’s insecurities, as well as her inexperience with nature and the opposite sex.

Danger and disagreement follow the pair wherever they go. Enamored with Angelo and his local savvy, Kenzie hopes to secure his loyal friendship. But how can she win Angelo’s trust when what she must tell him will crush his ego?

Island Sting includes notes on the endangered Florida Key Deer and the National Key Deer Refuge.

Review: After reading the synopsis for Island Sting, I was very excited for this book. However, it didn’t knock my socks off like I expected it to. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Island Sting, but it definitely could have been better. Let’s start off with what I liked about the book. Doerr has written an insightful novel and with some funny scenes and touches on environmental issues.

While Kenzie was likable character at the start, after a while I was bored with her voice. Her character never seemed fully immersed in the scene. There was a lot going on throughout the book, moving to a new country, meeting Angelo, solving the mystery…. For example, when Kenzie moved from New York City to Florida, I didn’t feel that the homesickness was portrayed. To me, Kenzie did not seem to miss Florida, at all. She mentions it a few times throughout the book but it was telling me that she was homesick and not showing me that she was homesick. She was not an unlikable protagonist, perhaps just a little boring because some of the dialogue seemed forced.

Even with a few problems with it, I still found Island Sting an engaging read and Kenzie’s character passionate, strong-willed. Both qualities are admirable and if this book was targeted towards middle graders, it would be a good message to bring about.

The lack of action in the first half of the book made me put down the book a few times but I still picked it up because curiosity got the better of me. I can tell that Doerr attempted to develop the supporting characters but in the end, I felt that they were not fully fleshed-out and did not have distinct voices. Maybe it’s just me but I felt that the writing was too disconnected and the sentence structure was always the same. Again, middle graders will still probably enjoy it.

Island Sting is a work of fiction but there are many references to environmental concerns that are actually happening. That is something I really liked about the book. Also, Island Sting was a refreshing change from all the paranormal out there.

I would recommend this book for middle graders, however, adults may not enjoy it as much.


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