Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review of NEW YEAR ISLAND by Paul Draker

Ten Would-Be Survivors Compete on a Desolate Island

Many of us have made it through difficult times and are, to some degree at least, survivors. A highly popular television series, Survivor, puts its competitors into primitive environments and has them vie, individually and as part of teams, in contests of strength, guile, agility, endurance, speed, etc. Meanwhile, they have to scratch out the necessities of life. Some succeed, some fail, and the last contestant not eliminated wins the grand prize. The program’s managers make sure no one dies.

In his exciting and dramatic new adventure novel, New Year Island, independent novelist Paul Draker explores the qualities crucial to successful survival under unusual conditions. The book presents a Survivor-like competition on an isolated island. Contests and harsh conditions are undergone by a carefully selected group of people who have themselves already survived unusual challenges, such as being entombed for days during an earthquake when only seven years old, and orphaned by the incident. The competitors are wholly dependent for food and water on those running this “reality show” competition. The contests are cruelly designed to heighten antagonisms between the teams and among the individuals. They turn deadly.

Early on, we attend a lecture describing characteristics psychologists have found to be common among those, the talented tenth, who are typically found to survive life-or-death situations: 1. WILL TO LIVE , 2. RESILIENCE, 3. SELF-CONFIDENCE, 4. PLAYFUL CURIOSITY, 5. ALERTNESS , 6. UNPREDICABILITY, 7. EMPATHY, 8. INTUITION, 9. SYNERGY, 10. SPIRITUALITY.

Camilla, the novel’s heroine, displays these characteristics, while caught up in a survival game designed to get out of hand. Driven by money, romance, revenge, ten well-defined contestants fight nature and themselves and eventually the game’s controller in their efforts to win or even merely survive.

Not for the squeamish, this terrific story will keep most readers riveted. I could hardly put it down. I look forward to reading Draker’s next, Pyramid Lake.

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