Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Vanessa Acton
Publisher: Darby Creek Publishing
Every year, Zack's family vacations on a small island off the Pacific Coast. Since his parents' divorce, Zack and his father have not shared an easy relationship. Zack's dad seems to have little time for the three kids and is always on the phone working on his conspiracy theory website. This vacation is no different, at least with Zack's dad, but something is weird this year. Everything feels off, island visitors are going missing, and Zack is noticing that all of the island natives are wearing symbolic jewelry or sporting the same symbol in tattoo form. Zack and his friends race to discover what is going on and to rescue Zack's little brother from the curse that hovers over the island. They discover the island's secret and together they face an uncertain future with consequences they cannot control.
This is a great series for reluctant readers who have an interest in creepy tales and paranormal story lines. This book is well written with relatable teen characters who think and behave in ways that are consistent with their age group and relationships. They mystery is provacative enough to keep the reader engaged and streamlined to the essence of the story so that reluctant readers will not be burdened by descriptions or characters that are not essential to the plot. The biggest weakness in the story is the conclusion. The curse doesn't really feel like a curse in the truest sense of the word and feels too man-made. It also doesn't really resolve the issues raised or address the details of the "curse." Otherwise, this is a steady little novel.