(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Enid's got issues. First, there's her philandering father, who's pressuring her for a heart-to-heart. Then, there's Wick Jarboe, who's decided that after a year of dating Enid he feels stuck and wants to take a break. Whatever that means. And, of course, there's her pathetic, co-dependent, stalkerish tendencies, which convince her that following her now ex-boyfriend on a guy's trip to Maryland is a good idea. Which leads to a major storm, a sunken yacht, and Enid stranded in the middle of the ocean on a life raft with seven not-very-happy teenage boys. Oh, did I mention the sharks? Yep, 16-year-old Enid's got some serious issues.
As if fighting hunger, thirst, sunstroke, and bloodthirsty predators isn't quite bad enough, Enid's stuck doing it with some of her least favorite people. There was a point when she counted all of them - Sov, Manny, Skate, Burr, Wick, and Dale - as her best friends. Now, the boys from her twin studies group, the guys she once leaned on for support, are barely recognizable. Ever since Skate and Burr's parents died in an accident, things have changed, they've changed. The only person in the raft who's still on Enid's side is her twin brother, Landon. Not that that matters, not that anything matters now that they're all doomed to a watery grave.
Funny thing, though - the closer Enid gets to death, the more she wants to live. It's a problematic hope, considering that with every passing hour the possibility of rescue becomes less likely, a shark attack seems imminent, and the chances of survival grow slimmer and slimmer ...
Sharks & Boys, a new YA novel by Kristen Tracy, tells a straight-up survival story. Its mainstreamed plot leaves little room for subtlety or real depth, but the life-or-death nature of it all does keep the story moving. Our heroine comes off as whiny and clingy, a double whammy that makes her both authentic and annoying (albeit in a funny way). I didn't feel a lot of connection to her or to any of the other characters, really - probably because there are way too many to keep track of (even on the raft, there were eight). What I really wanted from this book was complexity, good character development, and a little bit of psychological drama since, believe it or not, the story actually grew a little boring at times. Since it didn't have much of any of those things, I found myself more disappointed by Sharks & Boys than intrigued.
(Readalikes: Reminded me of Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith, Trapped by Michael Northrop, and Life of Pi by Yann Martel.)
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs), depictions of underrage drinking, and sexual innuendo.
To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Sharks & Boys from the generous folks at Disney/Hyperion. Thank you!