Phoenix Island (Bram Stoker Award for Young Readers)
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WINNER OF THE BRAM STOKER AWARD FOR SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
John Dixon’s critically acclaimed Phoenix Island reads like “Lord of the Flies meets Wolverine and Cool Hand Luke” (F. Paul Wilson, creator of Repairman Jack). For fans of The Bourne Identity, Alex Rider, and Melissa Marr.
The judge told Carl that one day he’d have to decide exactly what kind of person he would become. But on Phoenix Island, the choice will be made for him.
A champion boxer with a sharp hook and a short temper, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman has been shuffled from foster home to foster home. He can’t seem to stay out of trouble—using his fists to defend weaker classmates from bullies. His latest incident sends his opponent to the emergency room, and now the court is sending Carl to the worst place on earth: Phoenix Island.
Classified as a “terminal facility,” it’s the end of the line for delinquents who have no home, no family, and no future. Located somewhere far off the coast of the United States—and immune to its laws—the island is a grueling Spartan-style boot camp run by sadistic drill sergeants who show no mercy to their young, orphan trainees. Sentenced to stay until his eighteenth birthday, Carl plans to play by the rules, so he makes friends with his wisecracking bunkmate, Ross, and a mysterious gray-eyed girl named Octavia. But he makes enemies, too, and after a few rough scrapes, he earns himself the nickname “Hollywood” as well as a string of punishments, including a brutal night in the “sweatbox.” But that’s nothing compared to what awaits him in the “Chop Shop”—a secret government lab where Carl is given something he never dreamed of.
A new life…A new body. A new brain. Gifts from the fatherly Old Man, who wants to transform Carl into something he’s not sure he wants to become. For this is no ordinary government project. Phoenix Island is ground zero for the future of combat intelligence.
And for Carl, it’s just the beginning…
half. Worse still were the bites, a pair of them, one on his neck, the other just below his eye. In mere seconds they had swelled to the size of tennis balls, bright red fang marks distinct as logos at the center of each lump. Carl shouted for help. Mitchell groaned and twitched. Spit foamed from his mouth. A drill sergeant pushed Carl out of the way, looked at the bites, and lifted Mitchell’s shoulders. “We have to take him back. Get his feet.” Carl grabbed them and lifted. “You!” the
that dried blood? Ralston died today. They put him in the sweatbox again and just left him there till he died. We could hear him screaming all night. Then this morning they formed us up and made us watch while they dragged him out. They were laughing, of course. Some of the kids were, too. I hate them. Someday, I’m going to let the whole world know about these murdering psychopaths. Carl stared at the diary. They’d killed some kid on purpose? For a second, he tried not to believe it—but
Drugs? Weapons? Money, phone? Anything?” “No.” “That’s ‘No, Drill Sergeant.’ ” “No, Drill Sergeant,” Carl said, the words bitter in his mouth. The drill sergeant patted Carl down, head to toe, then crouched to root through his things, shaking out the clothes as if on the hunt for something before tossing them to one side. Carl focused on the skull-and-crossbones tattoo emblazoned on the muscular bronze arm. The soldier used his left arm, Carl noted—a southpaw. A tattooed banner overtop the
his own death. Resolute acceptance, orphans . . . resolute acceptance of his own demise.” He raised the canteen overhead and gestured with the other hand toward Carl. “Behold Carl Freeman! A true warrior! I call him brother and ask that he drink from my own water.” He extended his canteen in Carl’s direction. Carl shook himself free of the hands holding him, staggered to accept the canteen, and drank greedily. “Hooah!” Stark bellowed. The platoon’s thunderous response puzzled Octavia—only
map of Russia and a bunch of smaller countries filled the screen. Stark pointed to perhaps the smallest of these, saying, “Zurkistan. Former member of the Soviet Republic. Bordered to the north by Russia, to the west by Georgia—that’s the country, not the state, Henshaw.” The troopers laughed, none harder than Henshaw. Stark continued, pointing to various locations on the map as he spoke. “Zurkistan is bordered to the east by the Caspian Sea, and to the south by Azerbaijan. Area: roughly forty