Romance novels get a bad rap. It's true, they can be trite and formulaic, but it's not fair to condemn the entire genre. There are some gems out there, but I regret to inform you that On the Island
is not one of those.
I still can't quite figure if this book is being marketed as romance or not. I thought it was not, which is why I picked it up. I don't care for contemporary romance or for chick-lit, and I think this book is some unholy amalgamation of the two. True, at its core it is a love story between an older teacher and her younger pupil. They are stranded on an island together, and over 3 years gradually fall in love. As a plotline, it's not without merit, but the potential largely goes to waste.
The two main characters were a problem. Anna, the teacher, has the personality of a wet towel. I swear to you, if I read one more book where the main female character pines over babies from page one, I'm going to give up on books with romance entirely. From the moment her baby fever was introduced (in the first chapter, as naturally this defines all women) I knew this was going to be a source of conflict in her relationship with TJ.
TJ was, quite frankly, too good to be true. He's incredibly noble and caring, always putting Anna's needs before his own. He spends about half a chapter acting like a normal teenager, and then immediately transitions into a caring (and boring) 30 year old once they land on the island.
The book alternates chapters between TJ and Anna. This would be a great idea, if they in any way sounded like different characters. I kept having to check and see whose chapter I was reading. They're also boring - their entire relationship they have maybe one mild fight. All their conflict? Comes from loving each other too much.
The island scenes are not as interesting as they might have been - we are treated to endless descriptions of eating breadfruit and showering (isn't it lucky how all their supplies managed to wash up on shore, and how Anna had apparently packed enough shampoo for 3 years?) Also, for a romance-ish novel the sexy times are super vague. I read a review where someone was complaining how filthy this novel was, to which I respond "Please send me your copy, with the filthy sexy-times, because mine only contains vague allusions to what's going on."
Once they leave the island it goes entirely off the rails, with tons of the aforementioned "I must leave you, because I love you too much!" types of conflict. We are also inexplicably treated to Anna's newfound love for volunteering and helping the homeless, which added nothing to the plot.
Then there is the epilogue, which is cheese-o-rama.
So yeah, I don't recommend this one. I gave it 2 stars because I did finish it, but the more I think about it the less satisfied I am with the book.