Second books in series can be dangerous territory for both the reader and writer. All too often, the writer “blows out” all the creative energy in the first book, leaving the second and following books … well … lacking. Considering the exceptionally strong start provided by John Dixon’s “Phoenix Island”, his book two in the young-adult-targeted series titled “Devil’s Pocket” (released August 4, 2015 by Gallery Books) could have easily suffered such an anti-climactic fate.
Thankfully, this is not the case.
“Phoenix Island” kicked off the series with a brutal and suspenseful action/adventure story populated by fun and engaging characters (read my “Phoenix Island” review). A troubled teen orphan, Carl Freeman’s quick temper, quicker fists, and overwhelming need to put bullies in their place (most often the emergency room…) gets him sent to Phoenix Island, a military-style youth rehabilitation camp off the Mexican coast that is actually a breeding ground for fanatical, technologically-enhanced super soldiers serving the commander, Stark, in a plot to rule the world.
“Devil’s Pocket” picks up with Carl serving as Stark’s prodigy on Phoenix Island (while secretly plotting to take the “Old Man” down). Between a microchip planted in his brain and nano-bots coursing through his bloodstream, Carl has superhuman strength, stamina, and mental abilities to help him achieve his overt and clandestine goals.