Anna Wheeler is something of a wild child. She stays out late, she parties, smokes, and drinks. Not to mention dates a boy that neither of her parents approve of. Finally fed up with her antics, her father sends her to Camp Archstone, where she is told she will spend three months in a boot camp situation in order to show her the error of her ways. Anna of course is less than thrilled about his turn of events, and vows to run off at the first opportunity. When an overnight hike takes a terrifying and deadly turn, the girls are left to fend for themselves in miles of jungle wilderness. If Anna wants to survive, she’s going to need to keep her wits about her and be wary of who to trust, because whatever is hunting them isn’t the only threat. There’s also the other girls…
Like with Tunnel in the Sky, I managed to get it into my head that his was going to be a Lord of the Flies for girls, with Anna as Ralph and resident sociopathic mean girl Kara as Jack. Overly intelligent Stacy was going to be Piggy, and the rest of the assorted cast was given names that fit best. Like with Tunnel in the Sky, I turned out to be wrong, but this time I don’t think that the story suffered for it. In fact I thought it was very good. One of the things I really appreciated was the slow reveal of Anna’s backstory, because it is given to us over the course of her very real fight for survival, and it almost feels like you are working through her past with her. I liked that she learned to be angry at the real culprit, not direct it solely at her father or herself. I also enjoyed that even though she realized she’d been misplacing the bulk of her fury, it didn’t immediately make her want to reconcile with her father and admit that he was right. If she had, it wouldn’t have felt true. Besides, her dad earned some of the anger she gave him. In fact, if there was one weakness in the book, it was that her dad was simply portrayed as “stock religious fanatic” and was never really fleshed out, though I suppose that wasn’t the point of the book anyway. It wasn’t about how Anna coming to terms with her father. It was about Anna coming to terms with herself.