The Brink - Book Review
When the party of a lifetime goes wrong, a group of school leavers will never be the same again. Thanks to Text Publishing for giving me an advance copy of The Brink in exchange for an honest review.
A group of school leavers take a road trip to the party of a lifetime, only to be turned away at a police roadblock just before they reach their destination. Doing an about face, they end up on Brink Island, a beautiful and isolated place set apart from the mainland.
On arrival at the island, the group are met by a particularly menacing local, who warns them not to cause any trouble. Brink Island and surrounds are inhabited by a community who live under the radar and want to keep it that way. He warns the group not to cause any trouble that will attract the attention of authorities and makes it clear that there will be serious consequences if they do. The group give him their assurances and he returns to the mainland, leaving them entirely to their own devices.
Conditions on the island are very basic. The group are billeted in a few scattered shacks with primitive amenities and restricted communications with the outside world. The food they bring with them seems to be limited to whatever can be fried up on the barbeque, and I don’t recall them ever having any fruit or vegetables. However, they are well stocked with alcohol, and proceed to drink to excess every night.
For the first time in their lives, these young people are away from adult supervision, and take the opportunity to do exactly as they please.
The Brink is told in alternating points of view by several of the lead characters, revealing how differently the same event is perceived by different people. But despite their differences, the group have one commonality; they must all adhere to a brutal teenage code where a single misstep can lead to humiliation, ostracism and even abuse. There is a very distinct pecking order, with the most popular group members on top, those on the outer limits being treated as second class citizens and the ones in between constantly fighting to keep a foothold. And without the influence of the outside world to moderate, this code becomes increasingly punitive, and life on the island becomes all about the survival of the fittest.
The Brink is the story of young people coming of age in extreme and cathartic circumstances. All of them must make choices and decisions that will effect the rest of their lives and the kind of person they want to be. But whatever the outcome for the school leavers of Brink Island, the one certainty is that none of them will ever be the same again.
I loved Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard and I found The Brink just as engrossing. Holden captures the joy and exuberance of youth, as well as its heartache and struggles. Despite the setbacks and hardships many of the characters faced in this novel, the story ends with a pervading feeling of hope. Like Invisible Boys, The Brink also shows that you don’t have to live up to the expectations of family and society to find happiness and acceptance, but that you can become the person you are truly meant to be and find the people who love you for your own authentic self.
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