by John Dixon
We watched the CBS show Intelligence, and at the end of a recent episode I noticed some tiny wording at the end about the show being based on a book. Ooh, I thought, must check this out! It’s always fun to see how things change from the written medium to the visual one. So of course off to the library I went and reserved it and got it pretty promptly.
The way these things go, yes, the original work was unrecognizable from the TV show. First of all, this work is classified as young adult, so the protagonist is a young adult, not a super secret agent soldier type the way it is in the TV show. And it’s an orphaned teenager who’s classified as a thug and goes through a boot-camp program on an island off the Pacific coast of Mexico. Our hero, a kid named Carl Freeman, shrewdly deduces that the location was chosen to be not only isolated, but for a culling process for a mercenary force mostly consisting of youngsters who are your basic psychopaths.
The back of the book quotes a review that calls it “Lord of the Flies meets Wolverine meets Cool Hand Luke,” and it only goes to show that really, reviews are the opinion of an individual, because I didn’t see that at all. But Dixon also mentions that the book would have been his thesis for his MFA if he hadn’t run out of money to complete his degree, and I can certainly empathize with that.
Phoenix Island is a book for teenaged boys. The only girls depicted are the kind that make actual girls roll their eyes, but other than that? It’s a story about a kid who comes from a disadvantaged background, is basically thrown away from society, and works his way into a peace for himself. And I don’t think that anyone can say that’s a bad thing.
Coming up: COLLAPSE: How societies choose to fail or succeed by Jared Diamond, SPLENDOUR FALLS by Susanna Kearsley, and more!