Review: The Castaways by Lucy Clarke

So many people have a fear of flying or, rather, being on a plane that crashes, and that is what The Castaways so brilliantly taps into. This is a very pacy thriller about what happens when a small plane crashes on a remote Fijian island. It’s the first time I’ve read a story about this topic; always nice having a new theme thrown into my thriller mix.

Opening sentence: Lori wheeled her suitcase along the humid airport walkway.

Then | Lori and Now | Erin

The Castaways is told from the point of view of sisters Lori and Erin. After a personal trauma, Lori feels like she needs a break and a fresh start so books a luxury holiday to Fiji for herself and her sister. They have a stopover in mainland Fiji before getting on a connecting flight to a smaller island, where their resort is.

The odds of being in a plane crash are one in eleven million. One in eleven-fucking-million. So, why you, Lori?

However, the night before they are due to fly, they have an argument that results in Erin not getting on the connecting flight. That flight then goes missing and through a mix of Lori’s ‘then’ chapters we discover what happened when the plane crashed. Through Erin’s ‘now’ chapters, we are right there with her in her grief, guilt and mission to find out what happened to her sister.

When, two years after the crash, Mike Brass, the captain of Lori’s missing flight is found alive, things take a new turn and Erin ramps up her efforts to discover the truth.

Desert island dystopia

Both parts of the story are so gripping. With Erin’s we get a clue-unravelling plot to follow and with Lori’s we are transported into the terrifying situation of being on a deserted island after a plane crash that not all passengers survive. There are Lord of the Flies vibes that really create an anxiety inducing atmosphere:

The tension between all three men was right there, every moment, simmering just beneath the surface.

Sister sister

I really enjoyed how The Castaways is as much a story of the terrifying experience of a plane crash as it is an exploration of the powerful bond between sisters. I don’t have a sister but this book makes me wish I did; Lori and Erin’s relationship is established so strongly and really takes you into the heart of their characters.

The Castaways is a visceral thriller that’s so well paced and with just the right amount of didn’t-see-that-coming moments. A perfect slice of escapism – just maybe don’t read it on a plane.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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