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home : features : book review April 28, 2016

7/22/2012 6:00:00 AM
Book Review: Self-published novel soars to the big time

Clark Isaacs
KDM contributor

On The Island, by Tracey Garvis Graves; ISBN: 978-0-142-19672-4; Paperback, Pages 336; $15.00; Published July 2012; Fiction; Published by Plume, a division of Penguin Group.

On the Island" is a phenomenon in modern literary circles. Starting out as a self-published e-book, it came into the market as a hit among readers from the start.

There are more than 7,000 reviews by readers ranging from Amazon to GoodReads. It is an Internet bestseller and MGM is making it into a movie.

Like many budding authors, Graves started out with rejections - 14, in fact, before she decided to self-publish her first novel.

Plume, a division of Penguin Group, is now handling the sales and distribution of this book as either a paperback or e-book. The first printing will have 350,000 copies.

Before success, though, came the story.

A 30-year-old tutor accepts a summer position to bring a 16-year-old boy up to speed so that he can resume his education with his peers. He had to drop out of school because of cancer. When it went into remission, his parents decided to treat him to a vacation in the Maldives.

En route, though, the pilot of their private plane has a heart attack and crashes the plane into the ocean. The tutor and student survive and make it to an uninhabited island.

Graves is able to keep your attention riveted on their survival. The two learn skills and they form a bond, which turns into a closer relationship as the years go by.

Still, the tutor keeps the student-teacher dynamic in mind, even as her student grows up and becomes a young man. Their developing relationship makes this an 18-and-over novel.

E-books are now outselling hardcopy books, according to media reports.

While "On the Island" is an example of how to get a first novel published, the question remains whether or not achieving wide circulation through electronic means or by standard methods is the best way.

In either format, this novel stands alone as a five-star book and one that is highly recommended as a great summer read.

Clark Isaacs is an accomplished book critic who published in local newspapers and national book review lists. He is a member of the faculty of Mohave Community College in Kingman.

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