The Island by Adrian McKinty, Review: Propulsive reading

After a shaky start, action-thriller The Island by Adrian McKinty (and its protagonists) find strength from within and prove compelling reading. Read my full review.

The Island Synopsis

The Island Book Review - Adrian McKinty

Propulsive, terrifying, and blade-sharp, The Island is the next thrilling adventure from the mastermind behind the award-winning global sensation The Chain, and a family story unlike any you’ve read yet.

You should not have come to the island.

You should not have been speeding.

You should not have tried to hide the body.

You should not have told your children that you could keep them safe.

No one can run forever . . .

‘a tense, pacy page-turner’ The Guardian

‘Sure to please readers who love pacy, suspenseful survivalist adventures’ Weekend Australia

The Island certainly gets the blood pumping and the pages turning as it races to its dramatic conclusion’ Canberra Weekly

‘The tension is palpable. The plot is twisted and claustrophobic. McKinty snatches you early and doesn’t let you escape until the very last page’ Good Reading

(Hachette Australia, May 2022)

Genre: Action-Adventure, Thriller, Drama

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Book Review

I have recommended Adrian McKinty’s award-winning, yet commercially under-appreciated Sean Duffy novels, In The Morning I’ll Be GoneGun Street Girl and Rain Dogs unreservedly. But unfortunately his breakout worldwide bestselling standalone action-thriller The Chain fell short for me. And now in a similar vein, his latest title The Island

I’m not going to sugar-coat it. I found this novel’s opening a real slog. Why? The story setup and characterisation felt flimsy, with the dialogue awkward and even perplexingly uncouth at times. It felt like too many chefs in the editorial kitchen had drowned out the nuanced and perceptive prose that long-time fans know McKinty is capable of.

Thankfully though, several chapters in, the prose quality and reading experience improved as McKinty’s authorial style finally took hold of the reins. From that point on, I was very much engaged. Sure, some of the character finds and missteps that propel The Island’s breakneck speed plot seem convenient rather than inspired. But one must remember, this is the escapist action-adventure thriller genre, and the pacing McKinty cultivates is unrelenting.

Ultimately though what was key to my engagement, and I suspect why this is already being adapted for Hulu limited TV series release, is the depth of lead protagonist Heather’s transformative story arc. What’s not compelling about an all-too-often under-estimated woman finding and unleashing her inner warrior when she finds herself in a life or death struggle for survival? 

Adrian McKinty is an undeniably talented writer, so I am pleased to see him achieve long-overdue commercial success with these recent action-thriller releases The Chain and The Island. I can only hope that his newly won fanbase will go on to discover the superior quality of his Sean Duffy novels and that series’ potent intelligence will be retained in Books 7-9 tentatively slated for publication in late 2022 and beyond.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 3.5 / 5 ; Overall 3.75

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More The Island reviews

“Deliverance meets The Road Warrior in this harrowing survival thriller . . . McKinty is a master of suspense.”―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Heart-stoppingly tense and unpredictable, The Island twists a family vacation to a nightmarish breaking point. Adrian McKinty has written another irresistible and pulse-pounding thriller about the surprising places evil hides and just how far we’ll go for those we love.” 
 ―Karin Slaughter, Pieces of Her

“A tense, adrenaline-fueled thriller.”―Time Magazine

“An exciting thriller that… pulls readers compulsively onward.”―Kirkus Reviews

About the Author, Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty was born and grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the Troubles of the 1970s and 1980s. His father was a boilermaker and ship’s engineer and his mother a secretary. Adrian went to Oxford University on a full scholarship to study philosophy before emigrating to the United States to become a high school English teacher.

His debut crime novel, Dead I Well May Be, was shortlisted for the 2004 Dagger Award and was optioned by Universal Pictures. His books have won the Edgar Award, the Ned Kelly Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award and have been translated into over 20 languages. Adrian is a reviewer and critic for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Irish Times and The Guardian. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children. Check out his website and connect with him on Twitter.

This review counts toward my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2022.

* My receipt of a review copy from the publisher did not impact the expression of my honest opinions above.