The Annihilation of Foreverland by Tony Bertauski (Smashwords, 2011). Review copy provided by author.
The island where thirteen-year-old Danny Boy wakes up should be every boy's dream--a tropical paradise, no parents, lots of other boys around his age, and plenty of time to play video games between visits to the ultimate alternate reality world, Foreverland. They're told that the island is a rehab center, and Foreverland is key to healing their minds before they graduate.They all have sockets embedded in their foreheads for the probe needle
that transports them from the torture of the Haystack into Foreverland. But Danny can't seem to remember how he got to the island or much else about his life before he arrived at the island, and he doesn't understand why one of the boys, Reed, resists entering the alternate reality of Foreverland to suffer in a cold wet cell in the Haystack. There's also the question of what happens to boys--and their sponsors--when the Chimney smokes. Then Danny meets a girl who knows Reed in Foreverland and together they unravel the reasons why Foreverland must end.
This science fiction novel is most reminiscent of Ender's Game and has the same creepy overtones of adults manipulating children for their own gain. While the plot is a bit convoluted and some aspects of Foreverland remain nebulous, the gaming and alternate reality aspects will undoubtedly appeal to sci fi fans, especially boys, while the mystery broadens the appeal to all readers. Danny is an engaging character, and Reed's dilemma renders him highly sympathetic. Recommended for ages 13 & up. Intense and violent situations.
I read a lot, especially kid and young adult lit. This blog will review what I've been reading. I get most of my reading material from the library, plus I buy books at school book fairs and the usual stores. I look for freebies on Amazon for my Kindle, and I'm happy to review any ARCs or e-galleys I can get my hands on.