Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott (review)
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Reviewed by
Kate Quealy-Gainer, Assistant Editor
Neithercott, Tracey Gray Wolf Island. Knopf, 2017 [336p]
Library ed. ISBN 978-1-5247-1531-1 $20.99
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-5247-1530-4 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-5247-1532-8 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 7-10

Every resident of Wildewell, Maine, knows there’s treasure on Gray Wolf Island, and they also know that trying to find it leaves people dead, maimed, or disappointed to the point of madness. Nonetheless, Ruby’s twin on her deathbed begs seventeen-year-old Ruby to find the treasure. A year passes and finally Ruby decides to honor her sister’s wish when she discovers a poem in an old copy of Treasure Island that seems to reference Gray Wolf Island. Soon she finds herself joined by four other teens with pasts cloaked in rumor and mystery in her effort to find the loot. The island is full of dangers both physical and emotional, with booby traps leading to near deaths and wind-whispered demands that the Ruby and her new friends reveal their darkest truths. The book starts off similarly to Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys (BCCB 9/12), with a mix of magical realism and legend and a quest headed by a quick-witted, clever girl who corrals a team of rowdy, irascible boys. Unfortunately, the tone begins to jarringly split between adventurous and sobering: revelations of murder, sexual assault, and a mercy killing are awkwardly paired with light-hearted, witty dialogue. The combination of hope and hormones never quite matches up with the weightiness of the group members’ individual histories, and the preternaturally wise Native American girl that accompanies them falls too often into the magical minority stereotype. There is a Goonies-like feel to the actual hunt for the treasure, though, so if readers can steer past the book’s pitfalls, they’ll be rewarded with a surprising payoff. [End Page 125]

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