The Castaways Blog Tour | Author Interview + Giveaway!

Welcome to the wonderful The Castaways blog tour hosted by YA Reads! This is my very first blog tour, how excitingggg! I was lucky enough to interview Jessika Fleck, the lovely and super sweet author of The Castaways! Check out my interview below!

Author Interview
  1. First of all, describe what the book/story is about in one sentence. (It can be a long sentence!)

The Castaways is a story about finding your strength, learning to trust yourself and others, great adventure, finding family in unlikely situations, and survival.

  1. How did you come up with the idea for this book?

The idea for The Castaways came to me in two parts. First off, a friend of mine was going through a really rough time with her daughter being bullied at school. It was heartbreaking and horrifying and left me at a loss that such things happened so regularly and in plain sight of teachers and administrators and other students. It just isn’t right. As all of that was sort of percolating in my mind, Halloween came along and my husband and I took our daughters on the obligatory pumpkin patch excursion. Of course, we visited the corn maze. And, of course, it was as creepy and beautiful and mysterious as it always is. At one point we decided to split up — one adult with one kid — and race to the finish. Well, I had our youngest daughter who wasn’t at all interested in getting out of there and so we just ambled through the crooks and bends and dead-ends. And that’s when it hit me: what a perfect place to run away when you’re trying to hide. And that was pretty much the beginning of The Castaways. The rest, honestly, spiraled into place.

  1. Are any of the characters based on people you know in real life?

No. Anticlimactic, I know. Really though, they’re all completely from my imagination.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

Without giving away any spoilers, one of my most difficult scenes to write also happens to be one of my favorites. When Olive arrives on the island, she’s taken in by one group of kids, but ends up pretending to be knocked out. Eyes closed, she tries to figure out what’s going on, who’s who, what sort of shelter she’s in, if these people are kind or not, etc… Being in Olive’s point-of-view, I had to explain everything minus her visual cues. Also, this is the first scene the reader meets anyone from the island and there are four characters, other than Olive, in one room. It was a great challenge and so fun to write.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as a mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Does a patronus work? 😉 If so, mine would be a snowy owl.

  1. What is the first book that made you cry?

I doubt this is the first, but it’s the first I can really recall… Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. I read it in high school. It still haunts (in all the good ways) me to this day.

  1. If The Castaways was being made into a movie, whom would you pick to play the lead roles?

In a perfect, dreamy world, Olive would be played by Odeya Rush. Will by Devon Bostick.

  1. And finally, what’s next? Are you working on another book?

Currently, I’m deep into revisions for my next YA fantasy, The Offering (Swoon Reads, fall 2018) as well as working on revising my first MG project (yay!) for my agent. Very exciting, stressful times over here! I’m basically living on coffee and chocolate.

About the book

Book Title: The Castaways

Author: Jessika Fleck

Release Date: April 3, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy

Purchase Links: Goodreads / Amazon US / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Amazon UK / Amazon Canada / Entangled Publishing

“The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous. Renowned for its infamous corn maze… and the kids who go missing in it.

When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing. Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.

Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home. But victory may require more betrayal, sacrifice, and heartbreak than she’s ready for.”


About the author

Jessika Fleck is an author, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens. Her work verges on fantastical and dark with a touch of realism. She is a regular contributor to the fantastic kidlit blog, Kidliterati, and is represented by Victoria Marini of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

Connect with Jessika Fleck:

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads / Newsletter

Enter the Giveaway

Click the link below to win a prize pack including a The Castaways paperback + swag OR an Amazon gift card in the case of an international winner.

A Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour

You can follow the rest of the tour over here!


I have also reviewed The Castaways on my blog before, so check that out if you haven’t already! Simply click hereeee!

Thank you for reading!

Jackie x

 

Review: The Castaways by Jessika Fleck | Spoiler Free

CastawaysTitle: The Castaways

Author: Jessika Fleck

Genre: YA Fantasy

Published: April 3rd 2017 by Entangled TEEN

Pages: 320

*I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way!*

(via Goodreads): “The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous.

Renowned for its infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it.

When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing.

Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.

Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home.”


Goodreads / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble


The Castaways is about a girl named Olive Maxi Gagmuehler who gets bullied because of her name. She’s an insecure girl who lets a trio of three mean girls treat her like crap (they’re pretty bad I was shocked), she doesn’t like confrontation and rather runs away than face things head on. She goes to the pirate-inspired Castaway Carnival which has a maze where kids got lost and didn’t return from before. As Olive is in the maze on the run from one of her bullys, she crawls through a tunnel and randomly (or should I say magically) lands on an island. There’s other teens who have been stuck there for years, not aging as time apparently stands still.

This book was said to be similar to or inspired by Lord of the Flies but I haven’t read that one so I can’t really say!

I liked the writing of this book, it was very simple, there was nothing overly poetic/lyrical/too descriptive/metaphorical about it but that’s not a negative thing! It was very easy to get through. I believe I read this book in 2 (?) days. It was a bit difficult to get into it at first but by the end I really enjoyed it.

When I first read the synopsis I thought this book had an interesting premise and I was quite excited. I also got sent an excerpt and I thought I was going to fall in love with the story and the characters!

I wasn’t necesseraily disappointed, I just felt like this book had so much more potential and was kind of underdeveloped. I wouldn’t say it was predictable but… it kind of was at times! I don’t really know how to explain it, something was just off. I feel like the book could have been so much more intriguing and action-packed with plot twists and betrayals and all that jazz!

I wasn’t sure what to rate this book at first because I had (or still have) mixed feelings about it. It wasn’t bad or anything and I would say that I liked it but there were a few things that irked me.

There were a few cliché tropes and lines mostly from the main character that received some eye rolling from me. Let’s start with the romance. When Olive arrives at the island and sets eyes on Will there’s that immediate spark between them and about two days later she has already developed a major crush on him. They’ve barely talked or had a meaningful conversation but suddenly they kiss and pour their hearts out to each other when it’s only been A WEEK since they’ve met. Hello insta-love!

Olive is your typical anxious, insecure and naive main character. She’s been bullied because of her name (Olive as in the food and Gagmuehler as in to gag) for years and feels ashamed of it. But suddenly an attractive boy she just met doesn’t react and appears indifferent when she tells him her name and oh wait, he’s right, it’s just a name! How did I not realise it before! And then they kiss. Huh. If that isn’t chliché I don’t know what is.

(NOTE: I am by no means supporting or undermining bullying here! What I’m trying to say is that Olive tells Will her full name expecting a disgusted/ridiculing reaction. He tells her “It’s just a name.” and she suddenly forgets all about the issues she had with the name because a boy tells her so!)

Clichés aside, by the second half/third of the book it actually turned into a very enjoyable read for me. 

Firstly, I liked how the group as a whole developed. Olive meets Will’s group (the Lions) when she first arrives at the island. They have lived on the island for years and treat each other like family. They are wary of Olive at first but she proves her place in their group. As the story goes on the group develops a really tight bond and some lasting friendships have formed.

Secondly, the book actually had a good message at the end. Each of the characters went through some form of character development. They’ve changed and learned to accept themselves for who they are. I especially love the journey that Olive went through. She has been bullied for so long, always running away from her problems instead of dealing with them and generally being a nervous, panicked mess. The experiences she makes on the island help her face her problems head-on! She realises that running away is not the answer and discovers a new, more confident version of herself!

And lastly, the story finally picked up or at least I felt like something not-so-predictable was happening as they were figuring out a way OUT of the island! I think it was around 70% when I was hooked and couldn’t stop reading! Some secrets were discovered, some things about the island and the people stuck on it were revealed and figured out and it was very intriguing.

Overall, it was a solid read. It had some cliché parts but the last third of the book made up for it. I also really liked the ending!

I didn’t mean to point out so many negative aspects because this book truly wasn’t bad! I guess it’s just always easier to find things that you dislike than explain what you actually liked about a book! :’)

⭐⭐⭐.5  (3.5 out of 5 stars)

Don’t miss my author interview with Jessika Fleck for the YA Reads ‘The Castaways’ blog tour coming to you on Friday!


I am currently in Munich so this post is pre-written/scheduled. I will be replying to comments once I am back home! Don’t think I’m ignoring you, I would NEVER! 😛