Published by Thomas & Mercer (1st December 2020)
My rating: ⭐ ⭐
When Amelia finds herself invited to a secluded island – destination unknown – along with six other strangers, the offer is too good to refuse. They are told that they will be testing a new state of the art technology for Timeo Technologies. They are not allowed to discuss the invitation they received, not even with each other, and excitement soon turns to terror when the guests begin to notice that something isn’t quite right on this supposed island of luxury. All the guests have a guilty secret, all different, but each just as bad as the next. When they are outfitted with a headset device that seemingly jacks into their body, somehow able to read their minds, things take a turn for the worse, their pasts are catching up to them and there’s no where left to run. As they battle their way through the surprises popping up around the island, attempting to make their way to the end of day party that they’ve been promised, and subsequent escape from their own personal hell of Earth, Amelia is hoping she can battle against her own dark past and escape before time runs out. Can she?
This one really intrigued me, with a synopsis like that, how could it not. However, it fell a teeny bit short. I would probably label this one as a tech thriller/suspense, when I think what I was looking for was a horror. Don’t get me wrong, this book did a fantastic job of making the reader feel isolated and trapped, which is amazing. Holliday really came through with the atmosphere of this novel. I just felt like the story just sort of petered off to nothing which was a bit of a let down.
The story opens on two children whom we don’t know the identities of, said children end up a part of a murder (this is in the very beginning of the story so I felt there was no spoiler warning needed), and we’re left wondering what the hell is going on. Fast forward to ‘present day’ and Amelia is on her way with six strangers to this supposed luxury escape to test new tech for Timeo Technologies. The character array are as you’d expect, we have the influencer instagram couple, the older successful business woman, the paparazzi etc. Once they land on the island they have no idea where they are and they are completely cut off from civilization outside said island.
The story is told through different points of view, alternating between each of the characters at one point or another. I feel like this let the story down a bit as I didn’t really feel connected to any of the characters at all. We learned about them, about their secrets and their pasts, but nothing really endeared anyone to me which made me a bit sad. Not having an investment in any of the characters didn’t really let me become engaged in the story because I didn’t really care what happened to them. The main thing that kept me going was wanting to know the real reason for them being on the island in the first place, and to be honest, the reason was fairly loose and also a bit of a let down. There wasn’t really a big revelation, don’t get me wrong, there was a reveal which tied into the beginning of the story, but I had already guess who was who virtually from word go. The only reveal I hadn’t worked out, was the other child, I knew who they were in regards to the story, but not who they were in regards to the character, and it wasn’t a big shock horror moment which left me gasping.
The story had great ideas, I enjoyed the idea of this secluded secret island where these six strangers are stuck and need to rely on each other in order to survive. I’m a sucker for any story where strangers are trapped somewhere and need to work together to get out, for example, House on haunted hill, or Saw 2. And there was some creep factor as they moved through the island and their secrets were revealed, but I’m left with more questions than what I got in the way of answers.
It is hinted at some point during the story about a family or group of people who lived on an island, which for lack of a better term, really sounded like a cult to me. If so, I’m always a sucker for a cult story and was hoping this would be explored, however, it wasn’t and was sort of just left hanging. I didn’t get the point of mentioning the group as we never really delved into their story or the whys, whens and hows of it. Another thing that I have no idea why, was the strangers all being brought together on the island in the first place. I get partially why, but there was honestly no point to all bar one of them being there in the first place. They didn’t really have a place in the story and served more as plot devices than anything else. And for me, the reveal at the end was just a bit of a let down. I get loosely what happened, but it all seemed kind of pointless? There didn’t appear to be any urgency or depth added into the story at all.
To be fair I think the lack of depth in information and development was the biggest problem for me here. There were so many fantastic ideas and everything was only just loosely touched on, nothing seemed to expanded or given the development it deserved in order to make this story as amazing as it could have been. It just felt like nothing really happened and there was no real point to the story at all. The whole reveal seemed a bit far fetched when the why of the whole story was explained as well.
All in all, this one was a bit of a let down for me, it had great ideas, but these ideas weren’t explored as much as they should have been in order to create a well fleshed out story that left you wanting more. Instead it let me feeling pretty meh.
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