**** (Four Stars out of Five)
Reviewed by Dennis Ray
Minecraft: The Island is the first official Minecraft novel, and the audio version consists of two separate editions. One is read by Jack Black or Samira Wiley depending on whether you would like the character to be male or female.
For me this book has a lot in common with the Lego Movie; not in plot or story, not in character or theme. Rather, like with the Lego Movie, I had expected so much less. Upon first hearing of The Island, I wanted to do anything but submit myself to listen to it, knowing I would be subjecting myself through a mindless troupe of commercial over-indulgence. But like my mother said so many years ago, “How do you know you don’t like it if you don’t try it?” and I gave in and listened to the first chapter. And like with the Lego Movie (which by all accounts should have been something along the lines of a two-hour commercial) found myself not only hooked but amazed at just how good it was.
The novel begins with the hero waking up in water with no land in sight and no recollection as to how this individual came to be here. The lone castaway soon finds an island and looks around the shore. Where am I? Who am I? And why is everything made of blocks?
The book then explores this alternate reality where the character, neither male or female, perhaps not even human, has to learn to survive against giant spiders, zombies and walking skeletons who shoot deadly arrows.
In this world, the rules don’t always make sense, but courage and creativity go a long way. There are forests to explore, hidden underground tunnels to loot, and undead mobs to defeat. Only then will the secrets of the island be revealed.
I listened to the Jack Black version with my two sons ages eight and ten who are like so many other children, obsessed with Minecraft. We listened to it daily in the car and loved it.
It is rare to find a book that all three of us enjoy listening together. This accomplishment by Max Brooks (son of Mel Brooks) who penned the critically praised “World War Z” book, which became a not very good movie. Hopefully, when they make the Minecraft Movie, it will be based on this book.