With a title like ‘The Misfit Tribe and the Secret of Mystery Island’ I was expecting something akin to Famous Five when I started to read. With reference to boobs and drones on the first page however I pretty soon realised this was way too modern and way too Young Adult to be anything like the ginger beer quaffing summers of yesteryear. Intrigued I continued.
The Misfit Tribe – The Blurb
“Some secrets are best kept hidden… and some are just too magical not to share.
Teenagers, who unexpectedly acquire a vast collection of magical, mystical powers and abilities, find an ancient map. This map leads them on a quest for buried treasure to a mysterious island filled with hidden secrets, booby traps and a ruthless villain who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. What could possibly go wrong? A lot!”
Have I watched this?
It took me a few Chapters but upon the tribe arriving at Mackinac Island I realised why the book felt familiar. I was reading the literary form of 1980s classic The Goonies! Now I love the Goonies so was delighted to see the hallmarks all still present: The Asian techie kid (Genius), the alpha male older brother (Aaron), the loveable younger brother (JJ), a family with money problems that hidden treasure would help solve…. Yet there were obviously changes. For one it was definitely not 1980s and there was no One-Eyed Willy! Well The Goonies did away with his treasure didn’t they? This time round we were faced with the War of 1812 between the United States and United Kingdom. Throw in some connections to current day, via great, great, great grandsons and you have a winner.
The Misfits provided strong stereotypes. The villains were very villany – a British (not so) gentleman and a thug of a sidekick. The Chunk wanna be was very brash with his father’s banana-yellow Land Rover and constant fast food eating. You knew who you were rooting for from the get go and you didn’t detract from this.
Magic in the air
A complete step away from The Goonies was made via the introduction of magic. Not Harry Potter stylie (more on that later) but definitely within the magical realism spectrum. A touch here, a sniff there was just enough to not deter any cool teen readers. I would say despite this the book probably suits younger teens rather than older. JJ the lead character is 13 and I would go equal for the reader.
I reference Harry Potter as BJ Rowling is the cousin of none other than JK Rowling. Brave move to write a children’s book and to even sniff at magic. The Misfit Tribe however is different enough to avoid comparisons and aims at a slighter older age group.
Why Misfit Tribe?
Why are they called the Misfit Tribe by the way? I can’t recall a reference to this anywhere in the book, unless I missed it? It just didn’t seem like they would be considered misfits at school. Especially not Sandra or Aaron. Thoughts on a postcard (or in the comments section below) please.
Given the significance of the talismans the children used, there was a hint of a sequel but it ended neatly so I’m not sure whether this is the first in a series or not. It doesn’t matter though as I enjoyed it as a standalone.
My thanks go to Olympia Publishers for a copy of The Misfit Tribe in exchange for an honest review. If you have a young teen looking for adventure or if you are a fan of the Goonies in any shape or form read it.