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. . .
- Carl was a great main character. He had a troubled life, was orphaned, but had a great heart that came out in the wrong ways.
- The island was an awesome background for the military reform camp in the story.
- The side characters were strong and well-written. Medicad, Ross, Dexter, Davis, Parker, Octavia, they all really came to life to make the book rich.
- The story was described as Lord of the Flies meets Wolverine and Cool Hand Luke, SO true. That description fits the book perfectly. It modernizes Lord of the Flies and adds in the superhero features of Wolverine.
- As far as I can tell, the story is a stand-alone, but I really think this would make a great series. Maybe with the popularity of the book it will continue, but at this point it just kinda stops and you don’t really know what is going to happen to Carl.
- I did have a hard time with the blood and mistreatment of kids. I can see how the TV show skipped the beginnings of Phoenix Island and really moved into the intelligence, microchip part. It would be hard to portray these kids turning on each other and the “adults” being so horrible to them. I haven’t seen Intelligence yet, but I do really want to check it out. With Josh Holloway as the lead on the show, it is something I definitely need to see! Yum!