ARC Review – Phoenix Island by John Dixon

Title: Phoenix Island
Author: John Dixon
Series: Yes
Source: Received for review from Netgalley
Release Date: 1/7/2014

 Description from Goodreads:

The judge told Carl that one day he’d have to decide exactly what kind of person he would become. But on Phoenix Island, the choice will be made for him.

A champion boxer with a sharp hook and a short temper, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman has been shuffled from foster home to foster home. He can’t seem to stay out of trouble, using his fists to defend weaker classmates from bullies. His latest incident sends his opponent to the emergency room, and now the court is sending Carl to the worst place on earth: Phoenix Island.

Classified as a terminal facility, it’s the end of the line for delinquents who have no home, no family, and no future. Located somewhere far off the coast of the United States and immune to its laws, the island is a grueling Spartan-style boot camp run by sadistic drill sergeants who show no mercy to their young, orphan trainees. Sentenced to stay until his eighteenth birthday, Carl plans to play by the rules, so he makes friends with his wisecracking bunkmate, Ross, and a mysterious gray-eyed girl named Octavia. But he makes enemies, too, and after a few rough scrapes, he earns himself the nickname “Hollywood” as well as a string of punishments, including a brutal night in the sweatbox. But that’s nothing compared to what awaits him in the Chop Shop: a secret government lab where Carl is given something he never dreamed of.

A new life. . . .

A new body. A new brain.

Gifts from the fatherly Old Man, who wants to transform Carl into something he’s not sure he wants to become.

For this is no ordinary government project. Phoenix Island is ground zero for the future of combat intelligence.

And for Carl, it’s just the beginning. . .


This book was received from the publisher for review via Netgalley.

First a little note: This book published on January 7th, so this review is a bit later than I typically like. However, both Netgalley and Goodreads have the publication date as January 21st, so that’s why. Now on to the actual review:

Ugh. I have been seriously procrastinating on writing this review because it’s not going to be a positive one. I really, really did not like Phoenix Island. Honestly, the only reason this isn’t a DNF review is because it counted as my “x” for my A-Z Title Challenge. I’m not kidding. I disliked it that much.

Phoenix Island started off okay, with Carl in court for beating up bullies. As this was a pattern for Carl, the judge was no longer willing to be lenient and sentenced Carl to Phoenix Island until his eighteenth birthday.

However, as soon as Carl arrived at Phoenix Island, he met Parker, an extremely violent and even sadistic drill sergeant. This immediately made me cringe. I knew that only bad things could come from scenes with Parker. There were also gangbangers who very clearly had it out for Carl early on.

What really sealed the deal for me was a really graphic, stomach-turning scene while Carl was in the sweatbox. Seriously, I put the book down for a few and just gagged.

Phoenix Island may be good for some people, but it was just too dark for me. Almost everything was violent, with scenes of sadism and murder. I just couldn’t even deal with it. There was nothing I liked even a little bit about Phoenix Island, and for that reason, I can definitely not recommend it.

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One thought on “ARC Review – Phoenix Island by John Dixon

  1. […] Phoenix Island by John Dixon (1 star) […]

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