Recommended Age: 18+
Tags: Prison, Diversity, Social Media, Sisters
- Mature violence: Detailed scenes of murder, physical attacks, kidnapping, physical and psychological cruelty.
- Mature language: Some swearing and F bombs.
- Mild sexuality: brief kissing and descriptions of sexual manipulation.
Dee Guerrera has been trapped with psychotic murderers before, but not even her childhood kidnapping prepares her for Alcatraz 2.0: a reality show for death row. Each murderer sentenced to Alcatraz is dumped on the island with several serial killers, each with their own theme and style. The sentenced murderers can boost their ratings with their fans with a preselected wardrobe and career, and assigned friendships, romances, and drama. Meanwhile, the country watches and cheers on their favorite serial killer as each death row inmate is hunted and slaughtered for amusement.
Dee has never hurt anyone in her life, especially not her vivacious stepsister who she found dead in their home after school. But the court, judge, and jury thought otherwise, and now Dee has to see how long she’ll last as a reality star. After her first night on the island, social media dubs her #CinderellaSurvivor, but can online popularity save her from being brutally murdered? As she adjusts to her new life, she discovers that not everything on the island is what is seems. She doesn’t seem to be the only young attractive “killer” sentenced to Alcatraz 2.0 with shaky evidence. Can she prove her innocence? Or is the reality show a sinister cover-up for a darker truth?
This author is hilarious in person, and has definitely led an interesting life. She’s used her background in opera singing and traveling to fuel her writing career, and after meeting her at a book festival I immediately added her books to my wish list.
I really like Dee, she’s a survivor. She starts off her sentence at Alcatraz by refusing to play along with the usual games, deciding that she’s not going to be anyone’s toy or pawn. Each serial killer has a theme, or MO, and Dee’s initial assigned killer has put her in the princess category. So there are some funny princess references and wildly impractical wardrobe selections (all out of Dee’s control) because the Postmaster, or head boss, controls everything. Everything on the island is geared towards getting good ratings, but Dee refuses to cater to her “fans” despite the fact that it could help her survival.
She does somehow make friends, though she is hesitant about trusting the other so called murderers. It’s easy to pick out the newbies, they’re all chosen for boosting ratings and aesthetic appeal. But as much as Dee wants to believe that there’s a way out of this nightmare, she soon realizes the horror of being surrounded by constant death. As she watches her new friends being captured and killed, she can’t help but question the similarities between these deaths, her childhood kidnapping, and her stepsister’s murder.
There are flashbacks to Dee’s kidnapping, relationship with her stepsister, and court hearing. There are several detailed scenes of cruelty and murder. This island is created for murder, so it’s no surprise that a good chunk of the book is people dying in excruciating detail. The whole concept of a reality show turning death row into entertainment brings up important questions throughout the book: Can death be a form of justice? Is it okay to kill a killer? Or is every instance of deliberate pain and cruelty inhumane?
The death scenes are pretty graphic, which is why I recommend this for adults, though the writing is geared more towards younger adults.
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