This action-packed novel (with YA crossover appeal) combines adventure with extreme violence and concerns a young boxer sent to a very special youth boot camp. Carl Freeman has never been able to stand by and watch while someone is bullied, and that's become a problem for him. An up-and-coming boxer who won a national championship, Carl can't force himself to walk away whenever a kid's being bullied. As a result, the orphaned son of a police officer and a cancer victim has found himself in and out of the juvenile justice system. Now, at age 16, Carl has been sent to a place off the coast of Mexico called PhoenixIsland, where he meets the beautiful Octavia and Ross, a kid who can't seem to stop himself from telling jokes, even if that leads to severe punishment. And there's plenty of punishment to go around at PhoenixIsland, purportedly a boot camp for troubled kids. Only thing is, every kid on the island turns out to be an orphan, and all of those orphans seem to be expendable, or at least that's what Carl suspects when he finds a journal kept by a previous inhabitant of Phoenix. Forced marches, food deprivation and nonstop training don't bother Carl, but he has an issue with the viciousness that one particular drill sergeant evinces. When things come to a head, Carl finds that all of his suspicions about the island prove even worse than he thought in this crisply written and imaginative effort. Dixon's page-turner will keep readers of all ages enthralled. A fast-paced, exciting novel with the promise of future installments.(Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2013)
Phoenix Island by John Dixon
When a tough sixteen-year-old boxing champ sentenced to an isolated boot camp discovers it is actually a mercenary training facility turning "throwaway children" into scientifically enhanced killers, he risks everything to save his friends and stop a madman bent on global destruction.