Wrecked by Elle Casey
Release Date: January 1, 2012
If you liked The Breakfast Club and The Swiss Family Robinson, you'll love WRECKED! An ill-fated Caribbean cruise and four teenagers: a nerd, a jock, a mouse, and a beauty queen…an island, a treehouse, some nefarious interlopers…life and death…fear and loathing…love and laughter. Follow Jonathan, Kevin, Candi and Sarah as they find their typical high school lives and their worlds totally WRECKED.
I confess...I picked up this book and was praying that it was like Flight 29 Down! It was my guilty pleasure up until I was about ten, and their cheesy teamwork moments and "intense" issues were the drama of my preteen years. I read Beauty Queens by Libba Bray but that is more of a satire. It's completely ridiculous and riveting. This was completely different.The characters were fantastic, and the character development was even better. The events in this book were so monumental that it would have been unbelievable if they hadn't changed. I don't even know how to describe how I felt about the character development and the plot...it was just perfect. Nobody could have written it any better. It seemed so realistic!My only problem with it was that sometimes the dialogue felt a little forced at the beginning. It's something that I struggle with too, as a writer, but it's something that has to be ON for most readers to enjoy it. However, this particular problem was only in the first few chapters and then it got so much better. It improved and felt so natural to me, it was like I was listening to somebody I knew talking. I don't know how or why it changed, but I am happy that it did.There was also a little too much "telling" and the writing could have avoided a few "she knew" or "he remembered" and similar thinking actions. That's something that is hard to avoid, but for most of it, Elle Casey did a great job. It was just a few sprinkled in there. She did such an excellent job throughout the book at everything else that I didn't care about it in the long run.Candace was probably my favorite character at the beginning of the book, and at the end, she was tied with the rest of them! She was very likable and had a great personality. She was mostly just your average girl at the beginning of the book. While still relatable at the end of the book, she had really grown into herself and discovered who she really is. She seemed to have changed from a timid girl at the beginning to a confident one at the end.I am a sucker for the sweet guys. Jonathan is a bit of a geek, but that added to his charm. His intelligence was really nice throughout the book. Sometimes, it really did sound like he was spouting Wikipedia facts, but it actually worked for him. Some people can come across as extremely annoying if they're trying to act like a know-it-all but he didn't. He is affectionate if you get to know him but he is shy. He really loves his sister and is protective of her. He doesn't want anybody he loves to get hurt.Jonathan was the type of guy that I think I would be friends with in real life. Although he was an overall good guy, he still developed throughout the book. He was the character who didn't have as many flaws as the others, and he also contributed to the others' character development. I just really loved Jonathan.At first, Sarah seemed really one-dimensional to me. She was that popular girl that everybody loves to hate, who you can't decide whether you sympathize with her or think that she's awful no matter what. I really didn't like her at the beginning of the book, but then I realized that it was because she had completely closed herself off to other people. It felt like she was guarded against things that could hurt her and she became a really amazing character. Like her brother and the rest of the characters, she was a completely new person by the end of the book.Her personality and creativity really lit up the book. She grew a deep relationship with her brother, Candace, and Jonathan and those relationships changed her. She came to terms with her home life, who she was, and who she would like to be. She really opened up and grew as a person. I actually felt a sense of pride by how she developed because this is why I read books like these - to watch the characters grow and develop.Kevin was at first just the stereotypical popular kid. kind of concerned with just hooking up with girls and took everything lightly. At first, I thought he was just obnoxious. Candace has a crush on him, and he's kind of the popular kid that everybody likes to the confusion of those who actually have sense. When we finally started to get to know him during the book, I was surprised by how much I could identify with his character and then realized that he was really a great guy.His character developed so much throughout the book as well as everybody else's. His affection for Candace and his care about the people he developed relationships with was really inspiring. He was definitely a character that I found myself enjoying and his relationship with Candi really made the book shine.A definite theme of the book was that you can't really judge everything on first appearances, or at least, that's what I got out of the book. At first, Sarah and Kevin were convinced that Candi and Jonathan were geeks, and Candi and Jonathan thought that Sarah and Kevin were awful. Once they got to know each other, their point of view changed. Then, the island seemed awful, but they learned to make the most of it and actually started enjoying it.Sarah and Candi really became sisters. They talked with each other, had a rocky relationship at certain points, but started to love each other. They were best friends and helped each other through hard times. Throughout the book, their relationship developed and they were honest with each other. Their personalities were so different and they definitely complimented each other.When they were all distressed at the beginning of the book, they soon realized that it might not have to be this horrible situation. The teens became much more positive when they realized that it didn't have to be as awful as they had originally painted it out to be. They realized that the island might be a long term situation and they did whatever possible to make it work and keep themselves happy. It wasn't drama-drama-drama all the time, which I liked. Also, after they realized that they might not be able to get off the island, they didn't mope around and dig for impossible solutions. They kept their eyes open for them, but they weren't always trying to get off the island, which I really liked.While they were stuck in a terrible situation, being stuck on an island turned out to be kind of fun. At first, there was some tension and worry because of who they were stuck with, but after they got over their differences and actually started to enjoy having nothing to do and working on doing things to improve it, it was actually a very fresh twist on an old idea. There are so many books like this where it's painted to be awful and they get sick of being without people and doing without very trivial pleasures like TV and "the real world". What I liked about Wrecked was that it was the opposite. At first they thought it was bad but then they realized that they could really make it an enjoyable experience.They started creating events and doing things to make it fun. Candi suggested starting a band, the guys engineered things for their living area, and Sarah used her talent and creativity to weave cots and create things that made it similar to what they had at home. They had very simple pleasures, but they started to appreciate what they did have and use what they had to make things comfortable.One of my weaknesses in a book is when the characters are clever and smart. This made Wrecked a great read for me because it showcases the characters' resourcefulness and creativity in their situation. I just loved how Candi came up with ways to cook, Sarah was great at housekeeping, and the guys were able to do so much.It was very interesting because of the changing perspectives. Although the entire book is told in third person, it's in a way that truly shows you the characters. It was refreshingly honest, and I enjoyed the view of different characters through others' eyes compared to themselves. It also spotlighted the phenomenal character development so that was a definite plus for me.I have a weakness for character development. I want to see the characters grow and change based on their experiences and relationships and Elle Casey did a great job of that! I want to see change - positive and negative - and see how it changes their lives. If the events in a book don't change a character in at least some way, then I see no value in reading it. Elle Casey painted the characters in different lights, and through the story, kept unveiling layers that made them change in the reader's eyes by the end.One thing that I can also say about the flow of the book was that it was completely engrossing. I didn't look up for the entire duration of time that I was reading it. It started out strong and never lulled or made me bored. I was interested, and was the type of book that you can't put down. That's the type of book that I - and I can assume that I am speaking for many other readers - want to read. I just want something that pulls me in and isn't work to read.There's one thing that I found completely unbelievable. Jonathan just "happens" to mention to Candi that she should pack her Swiss knife, poncho, compass, etc,.? Not to be nitpicky, I just thought it was slightly weird.I am in awe of Elle Casey's ability to come up with all these incredible tropical recipes. She was so creative with only a few ingredients. Her characters managed to make feasts out of only a few ingredients - fish, bananas, and coconuts. It was actually really funny to read about because my stomach started to growl. Also, if I'm ever stuck on a deserted island, I would definitely use these recipes! For one scene, the kids managed to make alcohol from fermented fruit. Candace was self-appointed cook for a lot of the time and taught the other kids how to fish. They created diverse recipes.Another thing that I also enjoyed and that I thought was realistic (not that I would know) was how the kids had to come up with ways to keep themselves entertained. They found ways to keep themselves in shape and banded together to still keep themselves in a routine of normalcy. They played rugby and used the things around them to maintain their teenage lives.The romantic tension was well-executed as well. If four teens (two boys and two girls) are stuck on a desert island, especially if they liked each other previously, chances are that something is going to develop. Candace and Kevin made an adorable couple and Sarah and Jonathan changed each other. They influenced each other's characters and changed their awful situation to where some good things came out of it.They were closer than a family. Sarah and Kevin didn't have the best home life, but Candace and Jonathan had a good one. They avoided mentioning their parents for a while because they didn't want to be extremely sad about it and they wanted to make their situation bearable, because it was tough enough as it was. Knowing about the way their parents treated them, Sarah and Kevin's characters were understandable. It took a while to get to that point, but as crucial details were revealed throughout the story, we got to understand why they acted the way that they did at home.There were also some hilarious scenes sprinkled in there which I really enjoyed.I also LOVED how the story line still continued when they got home. It didn't go too much into detail, but some of the things that they did on the island caught up with them, and their experiences changed them. Their relationships changed a bit, and their families came into the equation. I loved the ending; I thought it was perfect.I keep using that adjective "perfect" to describe the book and that's because everything - the characters, the ending, the plot, survival - it was executed just perfectly. It's just the type of book that I want to squeal about and love it.Overall, Wrecked was a book that I really enjoyed. Its easy reading and absorbing nature made it a great read, and the character development was fantastic. I expected there to be some because of the situations that the kids are forced through and the measures that they have to take to get through them, but I wasn't expecting it to be on that level. I really enjoyed Elle Casey's writing, and although there are some things that I feel that she could improve on, I will definitely be looking for her stories in the future.Recommended for anybody who loves: Flight 29 Down; survival books; emotional books; light-hearted books; quick readsHow did their home situations influence their characters?How did the characters develop throughout the book?How can first impressions be misleading?Why do you think Elle Casey chose the ending for Jonathan/Sarah as she did?etc,.