|Boys and girls in a mercenary boot camp- what could go wrong?|
Carl is a orphaned teenager with a very clear code of morality- he believes it is his mission in life to stand up for victims of bullying. Unfortunately for Carl, this often results in him beating bullies to a pulp and landing in trouble with the police. A former boxing champ, Carl never loses and never backs down from a fight. After one too many assault charges, Carl is sentenced to Phoenix Island until his 18th birthday.
Bootcamp starts off normally enough- the kids do push ups, put up with power-tripping sergeants, and serve punishment in a metal cage called "The Sweatbox," but eventually Carl starts to notice some weird things- for example, why do kids' faces get blacked out in photos after they disappear to the medical center with an injury? Why are only orphans at this camp? After being given a special book-keeping responsibility, Carl discovers information about the real purpose of the camp- information that changes everything.
I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to YA readers who enjoy other action and adventure stories such as the Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies. It's awesome that the main character of this book is a teenage boy during a time when so many books are girl-centric. Carl is brave, strong, and ultimately discovers his fatal flaw and uses it to make a difference. There is a strong female character in this book, and some of the story is told from her viewpoint, but boys and girls alike will enjoy this book. It's sort of pre-dystopian- to really explain I would have to give away secrets of the plot, but the book takes place modern-day but in a setting that hopefully is only real in our imaginations.
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