Author Scott Allen brings us the story of Marcus; an orphaned, homeless pre-teen who is abducted off the streets and taken to a mysterious island in the enigmatic Bermuda Triangle, and subjected to an existence of harsh survival for the experimentation of a covert government agency. Marcus is joined by Lynn, a young girl who is also orphaned, and the two young people struggle together to find the basic necessities that will keep them alive in a bizarre jungle wilderness replete with creeping, shadowy, carnivorous beasts and government hunters who are hell-bent on destroying them.
The reader will follow these two characters as they struggle to find the things they need to subsist in this harsh wilderness, and as they fight to stay alive. The characters use their smarts and their wits, developing creative weaponry with found and salvaged items; obtaining food, finding and furnishing a hidden shelter; and offer an array of crucial skills anyone could benefit from knowing. These characters must accomplish all these things while simultaneously dealing with the constant threat of being murdered by the assassins dispatched to hunt them down, not to mention the mysterious monster that gobbles up the aftermath of each bloody battle with these child-hunters.
There are some scenes of significant violence and gore depicted in this novel, and perceived by an adult, it might take away from the concept and message. There is also the question of the dialogue, which sounds a little stiff and un-teen-like. The author could benefit from consulting with members of this age group in order to make the dialogue more real. Those issues aside, this is undeniably an exciting, suspenseful read, with lots of action and mystery to compel the reader to keep reading.
Survival Op: The Fear in the Wilderness is a commendable endeavor by the author for his debut book in this genre and age-group, and doubtless, as Scott Allen adds more volumes to this series, they will only get better.
Odyssey Reviews gives Survival Op: The Fear in the Wilderness 4 medallions.
Reading level: Ages 9-12 (Young Adult Fiction)
Paperback: 156 pages
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (March 1, 2007)