Rating: 4.25 stars
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David McIntyre is a Hollywood location scout visiting Hawaii to check out some sites in the South Pacific. He has hired Rick Sutton, a local pilot, to take him around the various islands. From the start, David has had the hots for the sexy pilot, but Rick is a pretty reserved guy and David isn’t even sure he is gay. When a sudden storm hits while the men are in the air, Rick makes a dramatic save and just barely manages to crash land the plane on a small, abandoned island. With Rick injured, little food or water, and no radio, David must do his best to take care of the pair while they hope rescue comes in time.
While on the island, the men discover an old, abandoned WWII military outpost. Both men are fascinated by the buildings and papers they find. David sees the potential in the old documents to tell the story of the men who manned the station and life during wartime. And as a former military man himself with a bit of a dark past, Rick is also fascinated by the ruins they find at the base.
Even as the men manage to craft a little camp for themselves, time is clearly running out for Rick as he gets more feverish and his wound more serious. The two must do everything they can to survive and hope that help comes in time to save them.
I found this a fascinating story that really focuses on two key elements. First, we have the plane crash and the fight for survival these men face. Anticipating only a day trip, they only have a little bit of water and some snacks. Rick is seriously injured and there are only minimal first aid supplies. Not to mention they are on a deserted island in sweltering heat. I really enjoyed watching these guys McGuyver their way into caring for Rick’s injuries, getting water, building a signal fire, etc. Madison really gives us great detail on their survival strategies and I found it all very interesting. I will say for some reason there wasn’t quite the urgency or desperation I would have expected here. It was all really intriguing, but I never really felt the intensity of the life or death experience I was expecting. But I did really enjoy this survival story, especially watching David make the transition from Hollywood scout in expensive shoes to someone who can do what is needed to help them survive.
The other element of this story is really a historical component. Although this is a contemporary story, there is a lot of focus on WWII and the military of the time. The men explore the abandoned outpost and find all kinds of documents and remnants from the lives of those whole lived there. I think Madison did a great job with not just a fascinating portrayal of war life, but also with tying it together so well with Rick and David. There are some really interesting parallels between the past and these men’s lives and both of them connect with the military history that they find.
The book also includes a fairly lengthy “interlude” that takes the story outside of these men trapped on the island. I will be honest, I didn’t really fully understand what was going on here until after the interlude was over, which I found somewhat distracting as I was reading. But once it all clicked for me, I found this section really well done. I am not sure if knowing specifics about the interlude is really a spoiler, but just in case, behold the spoiler tags: [spoiler] So basically David has a dream while on the island that puts he and Rick back in WWII era England with Rick as a pilot and he as a code breaker. The men become friends and have a relationship. I found all this really fascinating, both the historical detail as well as the way this mini story connects with the main one. I did find it sort of unrealistic for anyone to have a dream of this length and incredible detail, which is part of the reason I was so confused that this was in fact a dream at all, as opposed to some sort of time travel/past life kind of thing. But once I figured out what was going on I really think it was done well.[/spoiler]
So this story is really interesting in the way it combines these two very different aspects – the plane crash and fight for survival, mixed with this military history. As I said, I think the survival end could have done with some more excitement and intensity. But I really loved the way Madison manages to connect all the threads and blend everything together into one rich story. I really enjoyed this one and would certainly recommend it.
Cover Review: I loved this cover even before reading the book, but now I am even more impressed with the way the art mirrors the story in connecting the past and the present and blending it together so nicely. Great job!