When I first moved to the Seattle area I envisioned possibly living on one of the nearby islands and taking the ferry into the city for work or just for entertainment. It seems like an idyllic existence, so I can understand the complete shock when this serene lifestyle is shattered by the military showing up to quarantine an island due to a deadly virus. That’s the premise of SYLO by D.J. MacHale.
Tucker, a teen who helps out with his Dad’s landscaping business likes island life and didn’t resist much when his parents relocated the family to Pemberwick Island in Maine. What’s not to like? He has a brainy best friend, Quinn, a happy family life, a spot on the football team and two girls he has an eye on. Then Marty, a superstar of the football team drops dead after Tucker notices that something seems off about him. However, things happen and Tucker isn’t particularly alarmed until he and Quinn head out for a midnight bike ride and encounter something they can’t even fully understand but is sinister enough for them to contact local police.
Overall, Tucker is a good kid, so when the mysterious Mr. Feit encourages him to try some health crystals, he knows in his gut that something isn’t right, though the idea of being a football star and gaining the attention of his girl crushes is definitely a temptation. How these different events connect and impact the life of Tucker and all the islanders is what the story is built on.
Funnily enough, I could see some of the plotlines from a mile away, but the overarching story and mystery wasn’t something I was able to figure out, even by the end of the book (of course there’s a sequel), if it had been as easy as the smaller plots I would have put down the book as unfortunately I found the characterization to be weak. Tucker is a good kid, but just kind of falls into the mystery of what happens on the island, he reacts rather than acts. Quinn is the brainy sidekick who serves to help figure out the mysterious takeover of the island and what they should do. Kent is the rich spoiled jock of every high school movie. Captain Granger is such the stereotypical hard ass military man villain. How can he know everything about everyone and get to the site of events so quickly? Is he both omniscient and superhuman?
Even the female characters aren’t as weak as Tucker. In fact, Tori has bigger cajones than Tucker, and there’s more to Olivia than this first book is revealing, I am sure of it. However, while I felt that the female characters were way more interesting, I didn’t like there they were used as writer’s fodder for the overdone love triangle.
The only reason I will even read the next one is to confirm who the real enemy is and the reason why the events of the book even started in the first place.