I went in to Gray Wolf Island not knowing too much of what it was about – I mean, I read the synopsis and all, but this was months and months ago, so when I started reading it, I didn’t really remember what it was about.
Which means that I had forgotten that it was about a treasure hunt!
Yes! A treasure hunt! How awesome was that? Imagine my giddiness when I started reading this book and got to the point where I realized that was what the book was about…I was so excited. So as usual when I’m super excited about a book, I kept reading through pretty much the whole day until I finished it, and I loved every single page.
This book combines mystery, magical realism, and budding friendship between five teenagers to create a fun story that revolves around a hidden treasure that they are destined to find. The plot also has a host of chilling secrets – and brings about the realization that everyone has something that they don’t want others to know.
“‘You know what you need, Ruby?’
‘A paying job?’
These are words spoken to Ruby, who i still dealing with the death of her twin sister, Sadie, and has done nothing but retreat into the shadows because she doesn’t feel as if she can possibly ever be whole again. Although Ruby promised Sadie she would finish up what she started, and continue her mission to find the treasure of Gray Wolf Island after she died, Ruby still hasn’t gotten around to doing just that. She doesn’t feel worthy, especially with the terrible secret she has been hanging on to since that horrible day.
However, when urged to find the treasure, and then when she locates a map and poem that will help her to it, she finds herself talking to Elliott, wanna-be-bad boy who claims to know a lot about Gray Wolf Island. When he agrees to go with Ruby to find it (even though he kind of invited himself), he also brings along two others – Charlie, who claims to know how and where he is going to die in a vision that he had, and Gabe, who is the miracle son of a virgin. While Ruby isn’t okay with sharing this treasure hunt – one she promised to her sister – with three boys, she also wonders what Sadie would say if she knew that she would be going on a trip to Gray Wolf Island with three hot guys. So she decides that she’ll do it.
When Anne, a girl who never sleeps and has a knowledge of boats, joins in with them to go on the treasure hunt, the five of them set off to locate a treasure that has been a legend for decades.
“‘I think the island’s tormenting him. I don’t think it wants us to find the treasure.’ Anne bites her lip. ‘That makes sense,’ she says. ‘It wouldn’t keep it hidden if it wanted it found.'”
When they reach Gray Wolf Island, strange things start to happen – and Gabe claims that the Island has been talking to him, telling the others that there is no way the island will let them have the treasure as long as they all have secrets that they’re keeping – secrets that can change the way others look at them.
When Gabe’s secret is revealed and they continue to look for the treasure, everything gets much darker, causing them to uncover truths that they had kept hidden for years.
As they decipher the poem that Ruby found in an old Treasure Island book, and keep looking for the treasure, they form close friendships and endure things that they hadn’t expected.
“‘Can you really know someone without knowing the one horrible thing that defines who they are or who they become?'”
I love the fact that Gray Wolf Island centers around not only treasure, but the characters coming to terms with things that they have done in the past that they are ashamed of – guilt that they’ve been living with for ages. Although some of them were friends and others weren’t at the beginning of the book, after they have shared secrets with each other and spent time working on this treasure hunt together, I love seeing how their lives connect to each other’s little by little as time passes. I really do love a good book that has a strong focus on friendship, and Gray Wolf Island really brings that theme home.
The atmosphere of the island is dark, dreary, and fits well with the whole dark secrets theme I mentioned earlier. Although I think there could have been a tad bit more world building, I was still able to paint a nice picture of the island in my mind while reading – from the ocean rushing up against the shores to the caves the characters find themselves going through.
I wasn’t really sure I was going to like all of the characters, but they all had their own voices, and while the main story is told from Ruby’s point of view, I felt like we really got to know the rest of them, too. I loved Ruby’s character, as well as Elliott’s. They clashed and fit well together at the same time, if that makes sense. Their dialogue and goofy banter throughout the main part of the book really made this interesting.
I say the main story, because there is also a little side story going on from another character’s point of view from some time ago – almost little snippets of a memory getting put back together little by little. These chapters were helpful, and while I thought I had figured things about them out, it turns out I was wrong. The mystery here is really brilliant, and I’m so glad that it threw me for a loop.
Gray Wolf Island was such a suspenseful mystery that had a lot of different elements going on that made the book so good. The conversations between the characters, the way the author talked about the island practically coming to life, and the strange quirks that the characters all had really made this something special.
Tracey Neithercott’s first book was written by hand and illustrated with some really fancy colored pencils. It was highly acclaimed by her mother. Now, she writes YA stories of friendship, love, murder, and magic. (None of which she illustrates—you’re welcome.) She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, who suggests improving her novels by adding Star Wars characters.
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