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The Castaways

The Castaways

4.6 17
by Jessika Fleck

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The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous.

Renowned for its infamous corn maze...and the kids who go missing in it.

When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing.

Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new


The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous.

Renowned for its infamous corn maze...and the kids who go missing in it.

When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing.

Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.

Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home.

But victory may require more betrayal, sacrifice, and heartbreak than she’s ready for.

Product Details

Entangled Publishing, LLC
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File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Jessika Fleck is a writer, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. She loves writing novels for young adults and her work verges on fantastical and dark with a touch of realism. She currently calls rural Illinois home where she lives with her sociology professor husband and two daughters and is learning to appreciate the beauty in cornfields and terrifyingly large cicadas.

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The Castaways 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous 17 days ago
I enjoy fantasy as much as the next person. In fact, I've reviewed many MANY fantasy novels on this site. But sometimes you need a change. You want someone to mix things up in a way you've never seen before. And Jessika Fleck totally delivered with this. Think Lord of the Flies meets Lost. Olive is always running from who she is. In fact, she is doing just that when she runs into a corn maze she's always been terrified of. And she's doing exactly that when she crawls off the trampled path and into another world--an island, to be more exact. A world where kids fend for themselves, and protect each other. They aren't protecting each other from wild animals or other likely threats, though. They are protecting each other from other kids. There are two clans, and if the other clan gets a hold of you? Well...don't let them. But not everything is as it seems, not to mention the island seems to have a mind of its own. I loved this book because of the complexity of the characters. No one is all good or all bad. They all have fears, they all have trust issues, and they all have to decide what is worth sacrificing for the greater good. And I loved every one of them. I was sucked in from the very beginning, and savored every page. Not only were the characters amazing, but Jessika Fleck has an amazing with words and set up the island in exquisite detail. I kinda wanted to move there! If you couldn't tell by now, I am giving The Castaways 5 out of 5 stars.
TheThoughtSpot 18 days ago
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review. Thanks to Entangled Teen and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Castaways by Jessika Fleck. Olive is relentlessly bullied by three girls she has named The Trio. She meets her friend Tawny at the pirate-themed traveling carnival after hours, so they won't be bothered by anyone. They decide to go into the corn maze, which has a mysterious and dangerous past. Teenagers have gone missing and never come out of the maze. Olive ends up going into the maze alone and, while running from bullies, she ends up being transported to a secluded island where no one ages. This island is completely surrounded by ocean as far as the eye can see and seems to be inescapable. Olive meets people on the island that are considered missing in real time. These teenagers were born long ago and have stayed teenagers and only have memories from decades past. Such as sixteen-year-old Tilly, who is from Sheffield England, 1940 and fifteen year old Lewis from 1953 Memphis, Tennessee. Olive discovers each of their stories and secrets and she eventually shares her own. They all realize that they transported to the island because they were running from something and they work together to find out how to face their problems and give each other the hope of returning home someday. I fell in love with the island inhabitants and relished the relationship between Will and Olive. This book is so much more complex than I thought it would be when I first began reading it. The complicated story line and dynamic characters all come together to make The Castaways an interesting read and the cover is perfect for this story, in more ways than one. 4.5 stars for the fantasy realism and lovable characters!
krlga 21 days ago
Olive has been terrorized by the trio for a long time, secretly hiding her pain from everyone, until she just wants to get away. When the yearly carnival comes to town, her brother is excited to go and Olive agrees to take him, despite the rumors surrounding the corn maze and the kids who have gone missing over the years. When the trio finds Olive at the carnival, Olive is desperate to escape, wildly running into the corn maze. Next thing she knows, she is trapped on an island where a war in under way and she is in the middle of it all. I'm not going to lie, the first like chapter or two of this book were very hard for me to read because the level of violence and abuse that were heaped on the main character Olive. I was not sure I was going to be able to read a book like that but I wanted to attempt to give the story a fair shot, so I kept plugging on. The story all of a sudden became something else, not the dark awful despair I was introduced to, but instead a mystery full of questions and discovery. For such a dark beginning, the book was able to be full of hope and end on such a high note. I think it is best to have no set expectations while going into this story, but to keep an open mind and enjoy the adventure. Olive is the narrator of the story and really the book is about her journey to discover her true worth and the importance of standing up for what is right, regardless of what others think, and the desire to "just be". Her character made such growth as a person that I could not help but want to root her on. I was also just as torn as she was about the desire to go home and her draw to stay. I loved watching her realize what she needed to become as well as see the struggles the others had as well to learn about themselves. All the side characters in the story were developed and layered, each unique individuals with different life paths and inner struggles. Bug was adorable, just a fun quirky kid, and Charlie was also an interesting character. But my favorite was Will (aka my new book crush), the strong caring leader who may not be who he wants everyone to think he is. I am trying to stay vague, but the backstory with him and Dike was a surprise to me and I liked the author's twists. This was such a surprising (in a good way) read for me and my preconceived notions were thrown on their heads. The ending was just what I could have hoped for, and the idea of what the future may hold is a mystery. This was my first book by this author and I look forward to what else she wants to write about. I received this title in return for my honest review.
ruthsic 22 days ago
The Castaways is about a group of teens from different times trapped together on an island where time doesn't move forward. Basically, it is like Neverland and they are the Peter Pans, in a Lord of the Flies situation. You see, there are TWO group of teens on the island and they are both at war with each other. Olive tumbles into this island when she is running from her bullies at the Castaway Carnival's infamous corn maze (in which children have vanished), and is rescued by one of the group - the Lions, led by Will. The others, the Panthers, are led by Duke, and some rivalry from their time has been carried over to here, making the island a warzone. The kids are of course trying to figure out a way to get back home, but they are also all sort of happy here. All of them were running from something back home, and this island is a new life and a new start for most of them. However, the island is also dangerous in the sense that they have to live off the land, and all, in the middle of the fighting. Olive, the new person at the party, wants to figure out how to resolve this years-long war between the two, that has claimed multiple lives. In doing so, she faces her own fears, and makes others realize theirs too. I would caution readers from the abuse present at the start of the book - Olive is brutally bullied by her classmates on more than one occasion, and the scenes may be triggering to some. Same for Duke's story about his days back at home. About the bullying, it may provide solace to some kids to learn that it is okay to be yourself, as the book points out. And that you can't run from your problems but have to face them. The writing is pretty good, and Olive's voice is brought out splendidly as a placid person with bouts of humor. There are some cliches, though, which kind of dampened my enjoyment of the book - like the almost insta-lovey way Will and Olive fall for each other, his regularly-piercing eyes/gaze *eyeroll*. The ending also seemed sort of easy to wrap up, but I'll take it from a standalone. Overall, an interesting book to read, for sure.
Anonymous 22 days ago
Love this book! So many interesting characters and twists/turns. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and their personal histories and will forever ponder the possible existence of portals and timeless islands.
taramichelle 23 days ago
When I first started reading The Castaways, I wasn't sure what to expect. A few hours later, I was turning the last page. The Castaways is an absolute gem of a book and I loved it. The story does begin with a very brutal, slightly difficult to read bullying scene. We see Olive, the main character, both at home with her family and at school with her tormentors. The juxtaposition really drives home how the bullying has affected every aspect of her life. My heart immediately went out to Olive from page one. After an incident involving hair clippers and bullies, Olive runs into the maze at the Castaway Carnival and finds herself on a deserted island, far from the world she knew. On the island, Olive meets others who have been stranded there throughout the decades. I don't want to spoil any major plot points but I really enjoyed the plot overall (although it was a lot darker than I'd originally expected). The pacing is excellent and I was constantly engaged. A good portion of why I loved this book was the secondary characters (okay, mostly just the lions). They were all written very well and I enjoyed the dynamics between them. The author did a wonderful job of showing us the relationships between the characters rather than telling us. Watching the lions, one of the two tribes on the island, adjust to having Olive dumped on them was actually rather fun. The Lions truly felt like a family, with all the bickering, understanding, and love. Sometimes I would think that a longer time period had passed than actually had since some developed occurred quickly. Then I remembered my personal experiences at sleep-away camp (a poor substitute but the closest I've ever been to Olive's situation). I thought of how much we all changed and grew, and then the timeframe didn't seem quite so difficult to believe. Now that I've establish that I enjoyed the writing, the plot, and the secondary characters, it's time to talk about my favorite part of the story - Olive Maxi Gagmuehler (what a name!). What I really liked about her is that she wasn't a special snowflake. Had she not encountered the other individuals on the island, she probably would have perished. She gets panic attacks and makes some pretty serious mistakes. Olive is at the island because she was running away. Olive is also smart, empathetic, and brave. Some of the decisions she makes are incredibly difficult and adult ones to make. Full disclosure- I absolutely cried when reading about one of them. As for the romance, all I will say is that I loved how it developed and the choices that Olive made. The Castaways was a wonderful read and I can't wait to add it to my collection. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a good young adult novel or anyone interested in reading a wonderful book about finding yourself. *Warning - this book does contain some graphic descriptions of bullying. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Book_Sniffers_Anonymous 23 days ago
One thing that I thought was interesting about this story, aside from the island itself, is the story behind it. All these kids came from different decades in time and different countries, but there’s one thing they all had in common, they were running away from something. Also, the kids do not age a day while they are on the island. So while some of them should be like 60 years old, they are still stuck in their teen years. So, I thought it was interesting that you didn’t just have a group of kids who were between a certain age because technically they’ve been alive on the island for many years. One thing I was a little disappointed in was the romance. I just didn’t fully get it. It just felt like it was thrown in there because romance is expected in YA. Why couldn’t Olive’s character have grown on the island without “falling in love” with the main guy. I thought the story was great without the included romance. It would have been nice if this rag-tag team of kids banned together and became a family without there being any romantic angles. I’m sure I’m in the minority on this one but I just loved the dynamics of this group before the romance was introduced. The Castaways is a story about overcoming your fears. Each of the characters in this book had something they were running from. I liked the way the teens banned together and took care of each other, especially when it came to the younger kids who showed up on the island. While I felt like the romance was unnecessary, I still enjoyed this story. I loved the message that it told. *I was provided an arc copy for my honest opinion via the publisher*
Beths-Books 23 days ago
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review Wow! I can't even express how epic this book was. I couldn't put it down and read it from cover to cover in 24 hours. The Castaways pulls you in from the moment you open the cover when you realize that the main character, Olive is being bullied at school. Through the rest of the book, all I could think about was how Olive was going to get off the island alive and would William go with her. At the end, all I wanted to do was scream at William "Go with here!." But, alas, he couldn't. At the end, I just wanted to cry, but the author made everything better. I'm not going to give it away, but it has a happy ending. Five stars for Jessika Fleck!
onemused 23 days ago
“Castaways” is an incredible YA fantasy that takes place on “The Island.” Think “The Lord of the Flies” or “The Maze Runner,” although this book is a masterpiece in its own right. Olive Maxi Gagmuehler has always hated her name- she believes it is at the center of why she is bullied and represents everything terrible about her life. Olive is horribly bullied by a trio of girls at her school with real violence. One of the first scenes we witness is the trio holding her down on the bathroom floor while shoving a used tampon into her mouth until she vomits. It is no wonder that Olive runs through the corn maze to escape the trio after they beat her and shave off some of her hair. What she doesn’t expect is that running through the corn maze will land her somewhere completely different from Texas- “The Island.” This is where the real story begins. Olive is found by a group of children, currently engaged in a war with another set of children. All the kids are from different places and times, although a few came through the same corn maze Olive did (albeit at very different times). On The Island, they don’t age- although death is very real. The group of kids which found Olive consist of the leader, Will, whose bully Dean leads the other group of children, the adorable and young Bug, who always sneaks into Olive’s bed at night, the young Charlie who won’t speak, Tilly, whose care keeps them all well, and Jude and Lucas. Olive and Will instantly have a connection and a sweet young love forms. Will and Dean came through the same corn maze in the 70s, a bully and his victim. Everyone on The Island was running from something when they landed there, but none of them know how to get back. They’ve been engaged in a war for so long, complete with bombs and deaths- it’s pretty intense. This is a strong, fascinating and fast-paced book that will keep you guessing. I could easily imagine this turning into an amazing series, but this book has a complete story with an ending that doesn’t leave much room for sequels (so if you like complete stand-alones, this one’s for you!). There is quite a bit of violence and some really extreme bullying in the book- it’s pretty intense. The romance was quick, but I liked it/it was believable enough! It’s definitely worth the read though- I was completely captivated by the story and could not put it down; I loved the characters, I loved The Island, and I loved the mystery of it all. This is a beautifully written book, and I really enjoyed it! Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
WendyMM 23 days ago
Wow! An imaginative, thrilling book. The bullying in the beginning is soul-searing; the violence on the island shocking and riveting. Olive is transformed through friendship and love and stands up for herself and others when it matters most. Well done!
Meg Macijauskas 23 days ago
Once I started it, this book was hard to put down. Olive, in an effort to escape bullies, finds herself in a maze that takes her to a deserted island of other “castaway” teens. There’s rival groups and amazing characters (who are as interesting as Olive). The romance between Olive and Will, the leader of one group, was well developed and believable. I really enjoyed reading this book! There is definitely a Lord of the Flies element, and elements of Lost, but it really is its own thing. The writing is excellent and the pacing kept me turning the pages without frowning in confusion. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author!
Anonymous 23 days ago
Jessika Fleck's debut novel, "The Castaways," is a fast-paced, wholly original fantasy that reminded me of a YA "Lost." And I say that as a "Lost" super-fan who never missed an episode! Like the intriguing TV series, "The Castaways" follows two tribes stuck on a mysterious island, unsure how they got there and how (or if) they can ever return home. Our heroine, Olive Maxi Gagmuelher, is fleeing a trio of "Mean Girls"-style bullies when she somehow transports from a carnival corn maze to the island, where she meets a band of fellow outsiders, The Lions, including romantic interest and leader Will, and charming children Charlie and Bug. The Lions have been at war with The Panthers for some time, and when Olive joins The Lions, she's put in the middle of their deadly conflict. "The Castaways" has a message about facing your internal demons that will resonate with teen readers, and the plot will keep fantasy/action fans hooked. Fleck's Olive has a sassy, intelligent voice, and "The Castaways" mixes several elements - a little bit "Lord of the Flies," a little bit "Peter Pan," a "Carrie" moment - to create a unique read!
GwenCole_ 23 days ago
What a great read! Amazing imagery and character descriptions, who, by the way, are impossible to not fall in love with. I loved every character and there was such much emotion and background behind each and every one. Along with such a unique plot, this book was impossible to put down.
JCW77 27 days ago
If LOST and the Lord of the Flies had a magical offspring then The Castaways would be it. From the first chapter you are drawn into Olive’s world where she simply wishes to escape high school and the bullies making her life hell. From the time Olive runs into a magical maze away from her tormentors and vanishes onto an Island, until the end the author addresses this in a such a raw and beautiful way that anyone can relate to. It is a mix of fantasy and relationships, and ultimately what you have to do to face your fears, including yourself. Every single characters’ backstory is beautifully thought out and why each ended up on the Island to begin with. The world building is lovely and the overall theme of the story will make this book stand as more than just fiction.
JenMalone1 29 days ago
Really beautiful writing amid a cinematic story with perfect pacing. This book was a YA version of Lost, in all the best ways- a mysterious island with a "brain" of its own, characters with compelling backstories, infighting among different factions of those who landed there under mysterious circumstances- yep, I loved it!!
KarenHallam 29 days ago
What a fun and thrilling read. Full of vivid island imagery and characters who will grab your heart, and a knockout concept, make this an absorbing read. Kids tested to their limits and how they resolve conflicts and how cause and effect created their present situation. They also learn about the gift of sacrifice. Good stuff. I was sure the characters were fully conscious. Jessika’s deft writing is lovely and at times poetic. I look forward to reading the author’s next work!
CB_Whitaker 3 months ago
I received an advance copy of The Castaways and liked the premise right away. To escape the torment of bullies in high school, Olive jumps from the frying pan into the fire of a parallel world, an island where a war between two rival factions of teens is raging. The Castaways is an exciting YA contemporary fantasy with a nice romantic complication between Olive and Will, a dashing, stoical teen commander. The story could have transitioned to the island world a little sooner for me, but once there, the action-packed pacing kept the pages turning. I also liked the many secondary characters, who were well-drawn with compelling backstories for the most part. The ordeal of surviving on the island undeniably transforms Olive’s character, and the resolution is both dramatic and unexpected. An absorbing read.