I was blown away by the depth of depravity these unfortunate, "throwaway" kids were put through on Phoenix Island and more than once I kept thinking of the closing lyrics to Hotel California by The Eagles, "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave". Poor Carl hoped Phoenix Island would turn him into a different person; he just wasn't expecting to lose himself in the process.
This is hands down the most unique and brilliant young adult book I've ever had the joy of reading. Phoenix Island is part psychological thriller and part science fiction. I am hooked! After that cliffhanger ending, I can't wait to see what happens to Carl next. I'm also curious what this book and the show Intelligence will actually have in common as they seem so very different.
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 ma de 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. . . .