A teen named Cori goes on a mission trip to Indonesia with a bunch of other teens. She goes mostly because she broke up with her boyfriend and wants to get away for a while, not because she's committed to spreading the Gospel. The mission team builds a church, puts on puppet shows for local children, and bonds with their host family. And I spent the first 80 pages kind of bored. I kept reading because Kara had written a glowing review of it, and I figured it had to get more interesting. But it took me a week to get through those first 80 pages. And then three days to get through the next 300.
Suddenly, the book kicked into high gear. All the bad things that Cori had kept assuring us were going to happen finally happened. By now you probably know that I am not a big fan of foreshadowing, and one of the reasons I had a hard time getting myself to read this book for the first 80 pages was that so much time got spent warning readers that Something Bad Is Going to Happen. I don't want you to tell me that, I want you to show me the bad thing happening. I had a similar issue with Peace Like a River, which also got really good once it dispensed with all the throat-clearing.
While I didn't love this book, I did like it. I'm drawn to survival stories where people have to make do with what they can find -- it's why I love stranded-on-a-deserted-island stories like Robinson Crusoe and The Black Stallion and Lost. So I very much enjoyed the bulk of this book, and I'm glad I stuck with it.
Particularly Good Bits:
No matter which way I looked, all I saw were pale trunks poking up like giant exclamation marks, forcefully punctuating the end of every thought. You are lost! It's just you and the trees! You'll never make it out! (p. 154).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: A hard PG-13 for some graphic violence and bloodshed, life-threatening situations, and mild romantic content.