Oak Ridge High School is an elite American institution with a touring basketball team and a squad of cheerleaders. The basketball team is male, the cheerleaders are all female. On the way back from a countrywide tour on the private jet belonging to the rich family of one of the players the aircraft crashes. By sheer good luck the plane crashes on a desert isle. All those aboard the aircraft survive, with the exception of the pilot of the plane and the team coach, both of course figures of authority. It now remains to be seen how the young castaways can survive and what secrets the island may reveal concerning its inhabitants. It will also be necessary to determine exactly what happened at the party staged to celebrate the end of the basketball tour.
This novel is a story about survival, with more than an echo of Lost and Lord of the Flies, a reference being explicitly made to Golding’s masterpiece. When the answers to the relevant questions emerge, they make for a stunning denouement. However, the progress towards this resolution is too slow. The pace is not likely to sustain a reader’s unflagging interest. The lack of narrative impetus came as a special disappointment to one who has read Bates’s first YA novel, where the pace was admirably sustained. The characterisation of the present book is strong, especially the depiction of Haley Larkin the narrator, a prospective journalist. Haley is a participant in the trip only for a somewhat artificial reason. Her guidance counsellor has told her that being one of the cheerleading squad would enhance her Ivy League application. For her part Haley would have opted for the debating team.