Read by Charles Carroll
Length: 2 Hrs 56 Min
Genre: Middle Grade Adventure
Quick Thoughts: Stranded is a nice start to a series that I think kids will enjoy with the potential for better things to come. While I would have liked to see a bit more happen overall, I think this serves as bait for the hook, and it’s enough to snare a decent sized fish. Survivor fans may get a bit of a chuckle at how Probst’s experience as the host of the hit show comes into play in the tale, then happily hand the book off to their kids.
I know many of you are asking, why is Bob, a mid to late 30ish guy with no kids who has a penchant for dark horror, apocalyptic fiction and violent thrillers, reviewing a Middle Grade adventure novel? Let me assure it is simply because, despite having no children of my own, I am an uncle known for purchasing books as gifts for his sibling’s progeny and as a conscientious consumer I feel it’s important to get a good handle on books you may give to children and not due to my unhealthy obsessions with Jeff Probst and the show Survivor. Stranded intrigued me because it reminded me of the days I would stay up way too late reading adventure tales like Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island and watching movies like Swiss Family Robinson and not the hours I spent arguing each move made by the Survivor contestants on chat rooms and Instant messaging, blogging about the show and playing online Survivor RPG’s. As a child I dreamed about writing tales of pirates and deserted islands and this passion has always stayed with me, even if I did end up putting together and writing two seasons of my own online RPG about a Survivor tournament taking place in Post Apocalyptic America. So yea, I may be a bit of a fan of the show, and I may have argued more than once that Probst is the best reality host on TV and sure, maybe I once tipped a bartender twenty dollars to put on Survivor in a Casino in Biloxi because I was too drunk to walk to my hotel across the street before the show started, but hell, my love of adventure tales as a kid was the true catalyst to me listening to this book. Heck, I probably would have listened to it even if it was written by someone else, perhaps Phil Keoghan.
Stranded follows four children Carter, Buzz, Jane and Vanessa who have recently become a family when Carter and Jane’s mom married Vanessa and Buzz’s father. Of course, there’s a bit of tension and while the parents are away on their honeymoon their uncle takes them on a boat trip in the Pacific as a bionding exercise. A storm hits, and the kids are separated from the adults, left stranded on a deserted island. Now, they must find a way to work together in order to survive until help can come. So, Stranded isn’t going to blow anyone away. It’s a lightweight, but fun adventure tale with some relatable characters and just a touch of danger. I think that the writers do a good job setting up the scenario and developing the characters, but that takes up the majority of the tale, with maybe the last hour for just a bit of family drama, searching the island, and some daring do. Fans of Survivor will pick up some of the classic themes of the show, like prioritizing water over shelter, a mishap leading to drama, and personality conflicts exasperated by the tense situation. I like how the writers created realistic positive and negative aspects of each child, giving them all a role to play in their survival yet making it necessary for them all to work together. It creates a nice message while also building the drama. The major problems with the tale come in its depth. The reader doesn’t yet feel the true desperate nature of the situation, because the group is relatively well stocked at the moment, and sort of oblivious to the dangers of their situation. Being the first in a series, Probst ends the episode with a smack in the face for the kids that should up the ante for the next installment. Overall, it’s a nice start to a series that I think kids will enjoy with the potential for better things to come. While I would have liked to see a bit more happen overall, I think this serves as bait for the hook, and it’s enough to snare a decent sized fish. Survivor fans may get a bit of a chuckle at how Probst’s experience as the host of the hit show comes into play in the tale, then happily hand the book off to their kids maybe creating the next generation of obsessed Probst fans.
Charles Carroll brings a lot of youthfulness to his reading of Stranded. Carroll’s characterizations are well though out and age appropriate, without becoming caricatures of children. He gives each child a distinct voice fitting to the personalities the author develops. I particularly liked the segments where Jane is recoding a video blog of her adventures, he gives Jane a light femininity with a studious cadence to her speech. He did a good job capturing both Carter’s frustration and Buzz’s self doubt, while showing Vanessa’s struggles as the oldest sibling. His pacing was a bit slow, which probably works well for younger listeners who haven’t really developed their active listening skills yet, but can be a little frustrating for seasoned audiobook listeners. I think this audiobook would work well for a group listen, especially for a family car trip or morning carpool. There is just enough fun and adventure and a good diversity of characters to please all types of listeners, even moms and dads.
Book 2: Stranded: Trial by Fire will be out in June!