The island

Winner of the 2019 SSBA

The island by M A Bennett

The island

Link is a fish out of water. Newly arrived from America, he is finding it hard to settle into the venerable and prestigious Osney School. Who knew there could be so many strange traditions to understand? And what kind of school ranks its students by how fast they can run round the school quad – however ancient that quad may be? When Link runs the slowest time in years, he immediately becomes the butt of every school joke. And some students are determined to make his life more miserable than others . . .

When a school summer trip is offered, Link can think of nothing worse than spending voluntary time with his worst tormentors. But when his parents say he can only leave Osney School – forever – if he goes on the trip, Link decides to endure it for the ultimate prize. But this particular trip will require a very special sort of endurance. The saying goes ‘No man is an island’ – but what if on that island is a group of teenagers, none of whom particularly like each other? When oppressive heat, hunger and thirst start to bite, everyone’s true colours will be revealed. Let the battle commence . . .


Theo, Ardingly College

30th January 2020 at 7:03 pm


4 to a 1 to a 6 to a 3 to a 2 to a 7 to a 8 to a 9 to a 2.5 /10

(I fully admit that I’m incredibly bitter about how long I’ve spent reading this book)

I believe the most succinct and tactful way to express my broad feelings for this book would be to call it a complete mess.

I’ve certainly had an emotional roller coaster experience over my 2 months entanglement with it. Going from simply dismissing it as schlocky YA rip off a genuinely respected work of literature (like what the 100 series is to the Hunger Games) but on reading the first few chapters you are hit with the putrid one-two punch of The island’s unwieldy gluttony for pop culture references and M.A. Bennetts’s sadistic escalation of any and all torment and misfortune. It’s not enough for the bullying teacher to be influential in the school environment, he has to be the head teacher, it isn’t enough for the bullies to pull a few light pranks, they have to come up with the most disgusting and humiliating one conceivable (as a side note, later in the book it is said, and I quote ‘Ralph (the kid instrumental in both of these incidents) was a good kid. And I (Lincoln Selkirk, the victim of both these acts) was a bad one.), it isn’t enough to show that Lincoln was bullied, he to be psychologically pummelled for 3 years straight till he just thought that the most he could ever be in life was an introverted IT guy who doesn’t interact with anyone.

Oh, and you though Bennet might have been shrewd enough not to reference Lord of the Flies, a literary masterpiece that wouldn’t be held on a pedestal 1million miles close to the book, but no, she just marches confidently on. Now I’m not saying any references to the Lord of the Flies would be a terrible idea, in fact, it was probably necessary to reference it at least once to get the elephant out of the room. You can do a couple more but after three its fair to say you’re on thin ice. But when you referenced for the twentieth time and you’ve gone so far as to criticize an element of that story, you’re no longer on thin ice, just chilly water.

Once on the island, after recovering from the worst opening since the 20th century, it does start to improve until M.A. Bennet decides that Link and Flora should be incredibly irritating and hurtful, which kind of sunk the middle for me. But in this train wreck that some charitable publishers would argue is a book, there is a glimmer of hope, of a good idea, that being a deconstruction of the bullies, the bystanders and the victim, the trouble is, it’s buried under so much superlative tripe, that this excellent idea, and what scraps we get from it is ultimately brought down to being another jumbled up ingredient in this witch’s cauldron.

Overall, The Island is a very interesting and anomalous entry to this years’ book award repertoire, I might not recommend it as a good book but I will definitely recommend it as an experience, certainly better than the survival games.

Nimrod, Downlands Community School

26th January 2020 at 12:06 pm

I thought that The Island was a fantastic book. The many twisted paths that the book takes the reader on were thrillingly gripping, and kept me going till the bittersweet end. Some may have found this book predictable or unrealistic, but I found it a brilliant read. Whilst identifying with the characters due to the detailed nature of the writing, I managed to distance myself enough that the ending came as a shock – a pleasant surprise! A fabulous storyline, and one I would certainly recommend.

Yosola – Benenden

23rd January 2020 at 1:43 pm

The Island is a book with very good story line with an unpredictable ending. The book kept me guessing.

Annabel, Benenden

23rd January 2020 at 10:28 am

This book is about a group of school children that all don’t get along at school, but when their plane crashes on their way to a summer camp they have to learn how to get on in order to survive. I personally really enjoyed this book as it was a great read and extremely hard to put down.

Daisy, Dorothy Stringer

14th January 2020 at 1:11 pm

The Island is one of the most heart racing and terrifying books I have ever read. It keeps you on the edge of your chair with its ever turning plot and the subtle hints dropped through out the story. I thought this was going to be like the Lord of the Flies. A typical deserted island story where they are desperately hoping for help. But this book is more than that. This book is about power and how dangerous it is when used in the wrong mind set. This is about how geeks and nerds are the most dangerous of all. I think this book is so amazing as there were points in the book where I just had to put the book down because I was too scared to carry on.

Lily , Ratton School

9th January 2020 at 1:52 pm

This book was my favourite because it brought real life circumstances into a dystopian book. There were also lots of twists and turns throughout the book. I really enjoyed the changes in Link’s personality as it showed what he was really like on the inside.

Polly, Ardingly

9th January 2020 at 9:42 am

The Island is an interesting, detailed book which explores the idea of boarding school life and the journey of one low status boy when he goes on a summer camp, but the plane crashes on a desert island. I think that the plot is very well written as throughout there are hints and clues to what the island is, and it makes you want to continue and see if you can work it out yourself. I find the character of Link very interesting as at the start he comes across as your typical nerd but as the story progresses you can see him evolve into something very different. Nearing the end, it becomes a lot darker than the start and it is an insight to how power and a sense of the real world can change a person and completely flip the hierarchy of school life. Finally, I really liked the ‘desert island discs’ element to this book and how the sections of the book were Lincoln’s choices and how he asked the others what theirs were. It made me feel more connected to the characters, especially as I knew some of the songs. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun book with a twist.

Carrie, Ardingly

9th January 2020 at 9:41 am

This book is following a character called Link, showing how he adjusts to his new school, following strange traditions and rules but sadly struggles to fit in. As the book goes on, Link gets bullied for who he is and is an example of how extreme schools can be. In the book it shows us what he thinks and how he feels – mainly a sense of desperation and ultimate isolation. Sadly for Link, he is forced on a school trip with all his fellow classmates. I liked that the characters were teenagers too (similar ages) and it was packed full of surprises. However I believe that Link slowly changes, he shows signs in the island and wants to impress everyone and how strong he is. It may well just be him trying to fit in but I believe that the school has been so rough, that he Is used to it by now.

Ysobel, Ardingly

23rd December 2019 at 1:54 pm

‘The Island’ by M.A. Bennett is a book about a boy called Link who moves from the USA to the UK, he goes to a private school called Osney, renowned for its sport. On his first day he has to do an activity based on running to determine where he stands in the school’s pecking order. He turns out to be the slowest runner (a 12) and attracts the attention of the bullies of the school (the 1s) who make his life hell. A few years later he asks his parents to leave Osney as he has had enough, they agree to let him leave only if he goes on a trip in the summer. Link agrees and takes a plane ride with the others, but the plane crashes on an island in the middle of nowhere and he finds himself stranded on the island with his bullies and other peers. Link finds that the Osney ranking system is turned upside down as he has excellent survival instincts, so the others have to rely on him to build fires and hunt for food as they do not know how to survive outside of school and society.

I really enjoyed this book as I found I was able to relate to the main character, the author used a lot of contemporary cultural references that I understood, such as referencing computer games. The book makes you think what you would do if you were in the same situation as Link and what you would do if you were the one in control and you were above people that had once tormented you. It deals with the hidden side of people and what they would do if there is no authority to restrict them. The book has quite a plot twist towards the end that I wasn’t expecting at all but I found myself engrossed in the book and I liked the personality progression of the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone interested on a modern twist on the book ‘Lord Of The Flies’.


9th December 2019 at 7:59 pm

‘The Island’ by M.A. Bennett was an exciting book with many twists and turns that you wouldn’t see coming. I also liked the fact that the characters were of similar ages to me, making it easier to imagine yourself in the situation. Throughout the book there were little details put in (such as the use of ‘OK’) which I really liked.
I personally found it quite interesting to read as it clearly showed the protagonist’s (‘Link’) power from the school compared to the island.
Overall, I would rate this a 4/5 as I thought it was good book to read but wasn’t sure if I liked the ending too much. However, the ending did clear things up and didn’t leave you confused.

Alice, Ardingly

8th December 2019 at 8:48 pm

The book The Island is now one of my favourite books of all time. It definitely trumps most other books because it actually grabs your attention. Normally whilst reading books I get distracted easily when a book isn’t intriguing but with this book I couldn’t put it down (seriously it took me a whole night and an early morning to finish it).
This book made me really think about what life would be like if you were really judged for just one thing that happened in your life (the running race at the school). But then I realised that this race could have just been a subtle reminder that in society we are just judged on one thing that happens in our life eg: our exam results or what jobs we get, yes that one running race may have been a rather extreme comparison to life but I do think it that was a clever thing to out in even if it was done by mistake.
I absolutely loved all the different characters as they were all unique in their own ways. Throughout the book I had mixed opinions on the main character Link. At first I felt empathy and sympathy for him and I wished that things could improve for him, but as Link got onto the island I changed my opinion of him, I started to realise how selfish and horrible he was deep down. When you first find out that someone is being bullied, you always assume that the person being bullied is kind and always means well and in no way deserves it, but Link wasn’t actually a good person. I then felt anger towards him when he started to show signs of toxic masculinity and pure selfishness – feeling the need to hunt and provide just to impress the girls and to starve them just to show how strong he was and to prove to the girls that they needed him in order to survive. I thought about how he was probably influenced by the many video games that he played and unfortunately boys all around the world have acted the way Link did on the island.
The character Flora was the definition of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ which is why I liked her as a character. She never gave up and she ended up being rather clever. The author wrote vivid descriptions of all the characters and how they acted on the island which I was grateful for as I could picture everything going on. (I loved references to The Breakfast Show and Love Island).
This book was so cleverly written, it was an amazing book and I really hope that everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did. I shall definitely be voting for this book to win the SSBA.

Thomas, Ardingly

8th December 2019 at 8:32 pm

I really enjoyed The Island, especially because I love plane crashes and it is themed on teenagers my age, which is interesting. I would recommend this to anyone if anyone said to me that they want a book that involves adventure. Thank you.

Cassian, Ardingly

8th December 2019 at 8:31 pm

I enjoyed The Island, but I think that I prefer The Survival Game. I liked the fact that it played with the ideas of typical stereotypes of kids at school. It was like a version of Lord Of The Flies but easier to read and relate to as a younger person. The style of writing was flowing which made the book very easy to read.

Owen, SRWA

26th November 2019 at 1:01 pm

I think it was a great book with a bunch of twists. It is full of suspense. It is a thriller book


26th November 2019 at 12:56 pm

I thought the book was ok. It was a bit slow and I saw the ending coming a mile away but I wouldn’t discourage people from reading it.

Laura, Ardingly

20th November 2019 at 8:59 am

Book Review On ‘The island’ by MA Bennett
I thought that ‘The Island’ was a really interesting and thought-provoking book. When I first picked it up, I thought that it wasn’t really my thing and was sceptical about whether I would enjoy it. However, I loved the honest, vivid way you get to see life through Link’s eyes. I found that the use of first person and fairly short chapter lengths made the book easy to read. As I read the book, I found myself always wanting to read more because it was so enjoyable and interesting. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to other people my age as I found it an exciting, fun read.

Katie, Hurst

20th November 2019 at 8:56 am

The Island: The Island was particularly thrilling because of the plot twist – it is very controversial!

Archie, SRWA

19th November 2019 at 1:04 pm

I loved this book; it is amazing and I loved the plot twist. It would be very good for anybody who likes adventure stories. I liked the way Linkon went from least important to the most important to the least important in a matter of days. I also enjoyed how the bully suddenly became very dependent on Lincon. Also the ending came as a big shock to me.

Nathan, SRWA

19th November 2019 at 1:01 pm

I enjoyed this book as it had twists in the story that made it even more interesting


19th November 2019 at 12:57 pm

It was a lot like her other book S.T.A.G.S. I thought that it was very good and had some great plots. One of my top 10 books

R, Dorothy Stringer

19th November 2019 at 12:47 pm

+It is unlike normal desert island books in the way that the island they crash on is artificially created but it is similar in the way they keep on referring to other island books.
+It is a bit sad that at the end that things go back to the same as before.
+I like the bit at the end when Link becomes the president and does his discs.
+I found some of the topics a bit adult-y but it does enhance the meaning of the book.
+I enjoyed the way it is formatted like desert island discs at the start of each section.

Duckie & Wolfie – Dorothy Stringer

19th November 2019 at 12:46 pm

This is an wonderful book with an outstanding plot twist at the end.
We really enjoyed this book and seeing the journey of Link’s way through Osney and on the Island to see how quickly when Link show that he knows what he’s doing, how quickly the others followed and how quickly he became corrupt

Amazing book 10/10

Alice, Dorothy Stringer

19th November 2019 at 12:46 pm

It was a very engaging and interesting page turner. It was an amazing plot of survival, self-realisation and coming of age. It is an amazing book that shows the sad truth of school life and trying to fit in. It is an incredible modern take on Lord of the Flies that is full of action and emotion. It is a great book; I would really recommend it.

Alice, Dorothy Stringer

19th November 2019 at 12:42 pm

It was a very engaging and interesting page turner. It was an amazing plot of survival, self-realisation and coming of age. It is an amazing book that shows the sad truth of school life and trying to fit in. It is an incredible modern take on Lord of the Flies that is full of action and emotion. It is a great book; I would really recommend it.

Agatha, Ardingly

14th November 2019 at 8:18 am

I thought that this book was an interesting mixture of survival and behaviour. I enjoyed the scenes on the island especially and was interested at how the status changed depending on certain things. I was horrified at the school and at what the other students were like to Link and was even more horrified when Link and his ‘friends’ discovered that everything was just an experiment. The writing style was easy to follow and I enjoyed the book thoroughly.

Laura, Ardingly

11th November 2019 at 7:12 pm

I thought that ‘The Island’ was a really interesting and thought-provoking book. When I first picked it up, I thought that it wasn’t really my thing and was sceptical about whether I would enjoy it. However, I loved the honest, vivid way you get to see life through Link’s eyes. I found that the use of first person and fairly short chapter lengths made the book easy to read. As I read the book, I found myself always wanting to read more because it was so enjoyable and interesting. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to other people my age as I found it an exciting, fun read.

Harry, Shoreham College

4th November 2019 at 9:08 am

I found this book very interesting especially the shift in power from Link being bullied to him being the one that everyone on the island depends on. Overall this is a very interesting and entertaining book.


22nd October 2019 at 12:41 pm

Witty plot, deadly plane crash, carefully crafted characters and an overall spectacular story!

Tiffany, Lancing College

19th October 2019 at 8:50 am

There are a lot of twists in this story that you definitely won’t expect coming. But the overall message to this book is really good, and it shows how you should always treat others the way you want to be treated. The ending is a bit predictable but it’s a good one. Not only is the book fun to read, but it also teaches you survival skills. Overall it’s an amazing book and shows everyone a different perspective of life.

Clara, Downlands Community School

17th October 2019 at 7:37 pm

In conclusion, “The Island” by MA Bennett was an easy and exciting read. I liked the references to The Count of Monte Cristo and The Breakfast Club, yet I found most of the characters unlikeable (except for Ralph!) and I didn’t find the epilogue satisfying.


15th October 2019 at 12:40 pm

This book is a must read. When I finished this magnificent story, I couldn’t beleive what I’d read. The Island is a engaging and interesting book. It tells the story of Lincoln, a boy in a huge private school where he gets bullied evey day by a few students. When they get stranded on an island, it’s Link’s turn to take charge… It was a struggle to put down as the words flooded into my brain, gripping me in. I think it should be recognised for its incredible writing. The author really makes you beleive that they are a 16 year-old-boy, desperate for revenge, hungry for power. The level of writing of this is off the scale and I can’t wait to read more by this writer.

Ayla, Downlands

6th October 2019 at 8:30 pm

I think The Island is an interesting book with lots of twists and turns. I really like the way it puts people in others’ positions and shows their different reactions. It’s a light thriller with pinch of romance too and if you like suspense you will love this!

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