Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“The game has changed. No longer is this about winning; this is about surviving.”
I’ve been so incredibly excited to read this book for a while and once I started it, I could not put it down! Such a brilliant modern take on the crime/thriller genre I know and love, with an author who just seems to understand exactly the sort of book I want to read. I’m so happy to be opening this blog tour! Make sure you check out all the other reviews from this list of amazing book bloggers over the coming week!
Her dream escape is about to become a nightmare…
Kimberley King has spent the last five years trying to outrun the reason she left the police force. Her life is a mess and she’s desperate for change. So when she is randomly selected for the new series of the hit show LoveWrecked, she can’t pass up the chance to win the £100,000 prize. All Kimberley needs to do is couple up with one of her fellow contestants, win the infamous LoveWrecked challenges, and she will have enough cash for a fresh start.
But the island isn’t the paradise she was promised and within hours, one of the contestants is dead. Then the announcement comes: one of the islanders is a murderer and Kimberley must find out who, live on television. For every hour it takes her, one more person will die.
The game is rigged, everyone is hiding secrets, and time is running out…
ARGH!! Not only did this book sound like my cup of tea, but it delivered right from the first few pages! Our main character, Kimberley, is someone many of us can relate to which is apparent pretty much straight away in the book. I automatically found myself loving her attitude and becoming attached to her, and this combined with what was turning out to be an amazing plot idea had me squealing! After I’d calmed down a bit, I was fully able to appreciate everything from the author’s tone to the pace of the book, with everything coming across as unusually perfect. I felt like this author had somehow got into my mind, found out everything I love in a book, and injected it into The Islanders from chapter one. The buzz about LoveWrecked, a popular show where contestants could potentially win a huge amount of money, even made me think this was a real life show, and I couldn’t wait to see how dark things became! The way these contestants were randomly selected meant that literally anyone could play a part. A worrying thought…
Kimberley is one of those (un)lucky few to be selected and I couldn’t help but worry slightly about what she could experience along the way. Her life is a mess right now, and that £100,000 prize money begins to look very attractive after she gets fired from the job she most desperately needs. Just imagine what you could do with that kind of money! I really like how the book is written; it’s so easy to read, yet consistently made me curious about what we were going to discover later on. Kim decides to accept her place on the show, not knowing exactly what she was getting herself in for. I for one couldn’t contain my excitement! I liked how we learn only the very basics about Kim’s life to begin with, including the fact that she’s been through a lot (not that we know exactly what right now) and that there was some sort of incident involving her mother. As well as the excitement of LoveWrecked, I was also excited to learn more about Kim as a person, and just what she could bring to the show.
“‘I accept,’ I say, cutting him off. ‘I want to be on LoveWrecked.’ And with that, I’ve done it and all I can do now is hope that I’ve made the right choice.”
I enjoyed meeting the other contestants and I tried my best to see through them, but the author has done a brilliant job of creating each one and making them so unique that it’s quite difficult to know if anyone is acting strangely! The villa where the show will take place is described brilliantly, and even though I wanted to think it was impressive, it’s described in such a way that made me feel a little wary of what could potentially go on behind its walls. I could sense a sort of darkness already as filming for the show begins, and it was just so easy to get sucked into the story. It’s been a while since I’ve been so immersed in a book that I don’t think about anything else but the story itself (I didn’t even think about work which I always seem to do!) The experience was just fantastic at all times. I couldn’t wait to see who Kim couples up with and more importantly, find out if she could trust this person. It would soon become clear to her that not everyone is who they seem and I couldn’t wait to dive into the challenges!
The author has perfectly captured the bitchiness of a real life reality TV show, and the drama made the book so memorable. Arguments already start to break out, and I couldn’t help but make a mental note of those who seem to be more hot-headed than others, a little creepy, or just downright weird. Would any of these characters be the one to watch? Getting to know these characters was so crucial in this book, and the author has really pulled out all the stops to ensure the reader gets a good grasp of these characters before the next wave of contestants arrived at the villa. Kim seems to be very taken aback by the show’s cameraman, Daniel, and the two seem to have their own connection. Trust Kim to be attracted to the one guy who isn’t even a part of the show! The entertainment is suddenly disrupted by a piercing scream, one that Kim didn’t expect to be investigating, and definitely one she didn’t expect to turn into something so sinister. Let the competition begin…
Kim’s past as a police officer soon becomes more evident and we see her become more alert as she investigates exactly what she heard. Things become a whole lot more serious and I loved how well the author seems to balance the fun side of getting drunk in a fancy villa, with investigating a potential murder, something so chilling and unexpected for these characters. It takes some talent to be able to do this so well! We come to realise that this isn’t the first time Kim’s seen a body and again, I was curious about her past life. This very modern take on a crime/thriller felt so refreshing in a way – the way things started to play out felt very unique, almost as if it was its very own genre, which continually impressed me! After the initial shock of this death, the contestants regroup and try to think of a way out of this whole mess. Were they really trapped in this place? Would they have no choice but to stay there? I had no idea where this story could go and was looking forward to seeing how the author continues!
The disturbing challenge for Kim is revealed – she must put her former police work to good use and find out exactly who killed her fellow contestant… LIVE on television! This would make such gripping reading, I could tell! I really liked the idea of the twist here, that the ‘realities’ of a police investigation would be streamed live for the whole world to see. The question is, would Kim be willing to accept the challenge after initially saying she wouldn’t do it? I knew she would, not only to try and bring justice to the murdered contestant, but to also potentially fix those internal battles she’s faced since leaving the force. It didn’t take me long to really admire her determination and just how selfless she is, and I think these qualities are so important in a character you want your readers to root for. Once again, the author has perfected this! With the news that one more person will die after each hour Kim fails to solve the mystery, panic sets in with the other contestants, but I was completely glued to the pages! How many others would die before the first murder is solved?
“The scream comes again. So piercing, I feel like it’s stabbed my brain. This time, reacting in the way it was trained to all those years ago, my body springs into action. Instinct punches out any lingering remnants of my hangover.”
My god, could this book even get any better?! I loved the detective theme in the book and I felt so involved in Kim’s efforts to find those responsible for killing her fellow contestant. Everything is so intense, wonderfully described and, quite frankly, horrifying. With Kim’s first accusation incorrect, another body is found – even though this was yet another awful discovery, it made for some phenomenal reading. I felt genuinely scared because of how creepy the whole atmosphere of the book felt, but I also felt so sorry for Kim. She was bound to blame herself for all these additional deaths due to unsuccessfully identifying the killer, at this would only add to the pressure. Such a sick little game that was written so well it gave me goosebumps at times! It’s clear the author has really done her research about what goes on in an investigation and it’s clear she’s passionate about everything she writes – it comes across brilliantly through her words. There is never a dull moment in the book and I just couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!
It’s at this point in the book where we really get to know the other contestants and learn more about their pasts. A new challenge for the Islanders reveals that there are people in the group that have killed before, and my theories about who could have committed that first murder were all over the place! Just when I had one character in mind, we hear a rumour about another character that threw me off course and changed my whole viewpoint, and just how clever this was continued to amaze me all the way through the book. It was clear the additional contestants would never make it to the island now, and all the Islanders wanted at this stage was for someone to come and save them. I could sense even more death coming, and I just knew we were in for a killer ending. Pun not intended… With a fast pace, suspicious characters and a whole lot of information to learn and put together, this book was just the ideal book for me and I never wanted it to end! Would Kim manage to save her fellow contestants? Or would she be the last one standing?
Everything fits effortlessly like a jigsaw puzzle, and Kim loses any confidence she had that she can solve the problem of who is committing these murders. The story at this point is a complete contrast to how the story began, with Kim slowly giving into the Judge’s requests. Just how much more could she take before she completely breaks down, unable to help anyone else and even herself? Each character needed to watch their step here, and I was losing confidence that any of this group would get out of this villa alive. It isn’t until the remain Islanders turn on her that I really felt like I somehow needed to protect Kim. How could she, after all she’d done to find the culprit, after all the stress she’d endured, be the one to kill a bunch of ‘innocent’ people who never asked for death? She’d really need to think about how she’d win the group over again if they were to trust her. Things were really getting juicy here!
Kim feels alone and scared, and I had such an awful feeling in my stomach that we wouldn’t get a happy ending here. With more details emerging, I wondered if anyone who had stepped foot in the villa was who they said they were! Could the remaining Islanders resort to killing each other, shifting the blame? Could this have been the Judge’s aim all along, to cause friction between the contestants, to drive them to the edge and see if they were capable of murder? The excitement in the book here is completely off the scale and I could not predict the outcome for those left, especially Kim. With even more bodies being discovered, it was clear we were almost at the end of our time at the villa. Even when the whole ordeal had ended, would it be any clearer who was behind it all? The questions kept on building in my mind and I was desperate to see what came next for Kim. Would she ever be the same again? I couldn’t wait to see how the book ended!
“My stomach churns. The heart only serves as a reminder of the four that stopped beating in the villa and the rose petals are the colour of spilled blood. The perfect representation of it all jar with the events I’ve seen.”
I loved how we got extra detail about the characters in the form of messages that are sort of a separate part of the story, and what we learn about the characters at the end of the book was simply brilliant. Those pieces of the overall puzzle that were still a bit shady in my mind became clearer, and it gave me a whole new appreciation for this author (even though I loved her already after reading this book!) I also really appreciated a further look back into Kim’s past as a police officer, and we learn about the crucial things we weren’t told about initially. This makes everything seem so much deeper and makes us realise that not everything is as we expected! I loved how we were always getting surprises throughout the book and I think that’s one of the reasons why I was completely hooked. I always felt eager to know more and to learn the truth, and this feeling never went away. The whole experience was brilliant up to now, but that ending I was desperate for could change everything…
… and OH MY GOD, it did!! That ending! This just took everything I thought would happen and completely put it to shame. The truth about the murders and who was responsible well and truly stopped me in my tracks and made me think about everything that had happened in the book from beginning to end. Perfection almost doesn’t seem like a strong enough word! I feel like shouting about this ending from the rooftops, but I’ll save the spoilers. The author has cleverly and effortlessly concluded the story in a way that satisfied my inner detective, made my jaw drop in shock and had me dying to read more from this author. An incredibly tense and full on journey with characters I won’t forget in a hurry. Absolutely AMAZING!
This book has everything you could want in a thriller and will appeal to a wide range of readers. There was enough gripping suspense, unexpected twists and shocking murder to really draw you into the story, and it was impossible for me to take a break! As well as being an incredible murder mystery/thriller, the story also explores the lengths people go for revenge, as well as showing just how little you should trust those you don’t know! There is so much packed into this book that I could talk about it all week – thoroughly entertaining but equally as terrifying. What’s not to love?!
A huge thanks to the author of the book, S. V. Leonard, and Emma at Damp Pebbles for my copy and place on the blog tour! You can pre-order your own copy of The Islanders now on Amazon, available on March 11th on Kindle and in paperback. Make sure you’re following the author over on Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date!