Future viewing audiences have become totally desensitized to violence and entirely dependent on sensation to escape their boring workaday lives – an addiction nurtured by the media with graphic portrayals of war and crime and with so-called reality programming.
Now, TV execs in pursuit of the only things they care about – higher ratings and bigger paychecks – have created the ultimate reality show: Seven people, each bearing the scars of his or her past, are deposited on an island in the middle of Lake Superior.
Given some bare necessities and the promise of $400,000 each if they can endure, the three women and four men risk death by starvation or freezing as the Great Lakes winter approaches. Their seven-month ordeal is entirely unscripted, they can’t ask for help or they forfeit the prize, and as far as the network is concerned the fewer survivors the better.
What happens when you dangle the opportunity to earn $400,000 in front of someone? For those who are an average joe, that amount of money can be life changing. You can’t turn on today’s TV without being bombarded with reality television and Phil Harvey has perfectly demonstrated how far our fascination with “reality” may go in the future.
At first, I thought this book may be more of a Hunger Games scenario, only one victor could win the cash. And with the opening chapter being what it was… trust me, you might think the same thing as well. But the truth is, this book is a world of its own making and doesn’t really resemble anything else I have read.
The premise is simple: seven strangers are given this opportunity to earn a lot of cash. All they have to do is give up seven months of their time, any sense of privacy they may have once enjoyed and survive through the winter with little to no supplies. Even the best of friends would struggle to complete this mission and at first, I thought the two groups may actually kill one another. But most of them find common ground and devise a system to help everyone survive. But as time goes by, they realize they may be lacking in the entertainment portion of their endeavor and devise a plan to boost ratings and really stick it to the producers of the show: kill one of their own. I suppose I should say pretend to kill… or at least that was the plan initially.
Harvey does a great job capturing the two sides of reality television and the hazards of what can happen when things go too far. This story is intense, suspenseful and at times amusing. The group of characters stranded on the island are an assorted bunch and it’s almost as if it’s a modern day island of misfits. So if you enjoy drama and suspense in your thrillers, I think you’ll find this book is going to hit the mark. Especially when it becomes apparent that anyone, on or off the island could be a killer for the right price… or chance for ratings.
About the Author
By day, Phil Harvey is president of DKT International, a non-profit family planning and AIDS prevention organization, and president and majority shareholder of Adam & Eve, a mail-order business that sells sexually oriented books and films. He lives with his wife, Harriet Lesser, in Cabin John, Maryland. He is stepfather and grandfather to several very promising kids. He welcomes emails from readers who have serious and thoughtful questions about any of his stories, novels or books.