Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart

Published by Scholastic

Summary:  When we first meet Jonathan, he is being transported to Slabhenge Reformatory School to serve a sentence for an unknown crime.  The “school” is built on an island, run by the cruel Admiral, who lives the good life while the boys toil all day with little food and cruel punishments for the slightest infractions.  On Jonathan’s first morning, however, everything changes.  The Admiral, sword held high in the air, is struck by lightning, and the entire staff, standing in a nearby puddle, is wiped out.  The boys are on their own.  At first, they treat each other as equals, but before long, one of the boys, Sebastian, starts wearing the Admiral’s hat, carrying his sword, and giving orders.  Colin, one of the smallest boys but also one of the smartest, rebels, and the boys’ world starts to revert back to the cruel place it was before.  Jonathan finds himself in the middle of it all, gradually coming to terms with his past as he desperately tries to help himself and the others survive.  256 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  Short chapters and page-turning adventure will keep readers engaged right up to the last page.

Cons:  A little too derivative of Lord of the Flies.

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