Stranded, by Sarah Goodwin

Stranded by Sarah Goodwin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

»Fortunately I have learned that there is no justice, aside from what we make for ourselves. There is only survival, and the victor tells the story.«

My wife and I lay in bed, reading. When I noticed I had read the same paragraph for a third time, I decided to call it a night. Two hours later, I woke up. My wife was still reading.
Another two hours later, she was still reading. When I woke up at 05:00 (a.m.), she was asleep.

The next morning I asked her which book she had read because, obviously, I wanted that, too! Turns out, it was “Stranded” by Sarah Goodwin. I immediately got started.

“Stranded” tells the story of a group of eight people who get shipped to an uninhabited island to live there for a year. They only have what they brought, can sometimes find caches of supplies but are mostly on their own. Everything they do gets recorded by cameras in the trees around them and by body cameras.
With them on the island are two camera people in their portacabin and, according to local legend, a witch.

This was a premise that I found pretty appealing. Especially, as it would turn out, since the mix of characters is quite good and they’re all believable in their motives and actions. The dynamics of the group are interesting and engaging as well and make sense – not always in a good way.

»They’d described Zoe as ‘flighty and insubstantial’, Duncan as ‘bull-headedly competitive’ and Frank as ‘the perfect balance of racist, sexist and old soak for the Brexit demographic’. I felt it like a slap when they got to me. ‘Madeline Holinstead – mousy, stuck-up and awkward. Clearly maladjusted lone wolf trying to fit in. Perfect love-to-hate character.’«

The afore-mentioned Madeline “Maddy” Holinstead is both the primary protagonist and the narrator. From the very beginning, she tries hard to fit in, blames mostly herself every time she doesn’t succeed and is soon made into the scapegoat for everything that goes wrong.

Lots of things keep going wrong and so we quickly find ourselves confronted with very difficult situations and conflicts that reminded me a bit of William Golding’sLord of the Flies”.

Ultimately, though, my very high expectations from my wife’s nightly reading marathon were not completely fulfilled: There are a few loose ends, the metaphysical/supernatural parts (which I have to admit, though, mostly remained rationally explicable) about the witch and some few other minor niggles almost led me to a three-star rating.

Almost… because the ending and the epilogue made up for most of that. Thus: Four out of five stars.

Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam

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