Forbidden Island: Stranded, Shadow Island, Book 1

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Forbidden Island: Stranded, Shadow Island, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Shipwrecked siblings encounter more adventure on new island.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers get some ideas for dealing with difficult situations. Vanessa deals with her stress by "slowing her breath when it spiked. Focusing on the task at hand." 

Positive Messages

Strong messages about the importance of being loyal to the people you care about and not giving up, even in hard situations.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The protagonists aren't always perfect, but they help their siblings when they're in trouble. Each sibling has unique skills and abilities that aid in survival.

Violence & Scariness

The sibling protagonists are in constant peril, starting when the dinghy they are using to fish on Nowhere Island gets swept to sea, trapping them on Shadow Island. A bully and his friends are rough with Carter when they find him on the island, and Carter eventually fights him. Also, the bully kicks gravel and rocks down on Jane when she's climbing a cave wall, causing her to slip and fall, and a competition turns into a giant tackling match among the competitors. A character falls into a hole, and another falls off a plateau into a waterfall, hurting his back. One character is kidnapped. 

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Forbidden Passage is the start of a new series featuring the sibling protagonists from Jeff Probst's Stranded series. They're in constant peril, starting when the dinghy they're using to fish from Nowhere Island gets swept to sea, trapping them on Shadow Island. A bully and his friends are rough with Carter when they find him on the island, and Carter eventually fights him. Also, the bully kicks gravel and rocks down on Jane when she's climbing a cave wall, causing her to slip and fall, and a competition turns into a giant tackling match among the competitors. A character falls into a hole, and another falls off a plateau into a waterfall. One character is kidnapped. The overall messages here are about the importance of being loyal to the people you care about and about not giving up, even in hard situations. The protagonists are not always perfect, but they help their siblings when they're in trouble. This could be a good choice for reluctant readers and kids who like fast-paced adventure. ​

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What's the story?

FORBIDDEN PASSAGE finds the protagonists from Jeff Probst's Stranded series on a new, mysterious island, once again having to rely on their own skills, and one another, to find a way home. The new step-siblings -- reality-show fan Buzz, his "bossy" older-sister Vanessa, smart Jane, and her athletic older brother, Carter -- get swept away in a dinghy shortly after reuniting with their parents on Nowhere Island. They float to a new island, where they find a native population working hard to keep their home a secret (when the kids' parents fly overhead in a rescue plane, the Nakula people sweep the beach clean of their footsteps and cover their village with an intricate system of palm fronds). The only way to get to the other side of the island and have a chance to escape is to participate in a competition against the other Nakula tweens and teens called Raku Nau, where the winners end up on the other side of the island. The only rule of this competition? There are no rules. 

Is it any good?

This new series starter is a good choice for kids who prefer fast-moving plots over well-written stories. The introduction of an indigenous people -- including bully Chizo and helpful loner Mima -- and their culture adds some interest and conflict, but watching these characters try to navigate the competition is really what will keep readers engaged.

Fans of Probst's first series will find Forbidden Passage follows a pretty similar formula: The siblings may fight with one another, but they're loyal and work to stay together as they move from nonstop adventure to adventure: Buzz and Jane search for vines to rescue Vanessa when she falls into a hole, Carter jumps after Buzz after he falls off a plateau into icy water, and the siblings even help break up a fight between Carter and the island's biggest bully, all as they try to win Raku Nau.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they would do if stranded on an island. What skills would help you survive?

  • What do you think will happen next? Do you plan on reading the next book in the series?

  • Would you choose to participate in the Raku Nau competition with the Nukula kids? Or would you look for another way off the island?

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