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Plot summary

Book 1: ShipwreckEdit

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Six troubled children who are part of a new scheme called 'Charting a New Course', or CNC, an extensive program that removes troubled children from society and forces them to cope with hardship and problem-solving aboard the Phoenix, a ship headed for Guam. There they supposedly learn the values of teamwork. They are the sibling rivals Will Greenfield, 13, and his sister Lyssa, 12; framed felon Luke Haggerty, 13; exercise addict Charla Swann, 12; Discovery Channel-dependent and couch potato Ian Sikorsky, 11; and rich, famous Hollywood actor's son, attention seeking JJ Lane, 14. After leaving Guam, a severe storm hits, seriously damaging the ship and washing the captain overboard. He is later presumed dead. They are abandoned by the ship's first mate, Mr. Radford, when the ship, day by day, begins to flood. After a failed attempt to repair the broken engine, resulting in an explosion that burns and sinks the ship, Luke, Charla, Ian, and Will find themselves deserted on an island after a week of drifting on a piece of wreckage from the ship, with one of the children being forced to dangle over the side as "shark bait." The status of Lyssa and JJ are unknown, and are presumed dead by the others. Will is unconscious upon arrival at the island. Parched with thirst and hunger, Ian, Charla, and Luke prepare to scour the nearby jungle for food.

Book 2: SurvivalEdit

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Ian, Charla, Luke, and Will wash up on the island, separated from J.J. and Lyssa. While Charla, Luke, and Ian are finding food, Will wakes up with amnesia, having no memory of CNC, or the other castaways (other than Lyssa), and runs away into the jungle. After several failed attempts of finding Will, the castaways hear a plane and go to the other side of the island to find it. To their dismay, they discover that on board were illegal traders, who shot one of their own men. They find the dead man washed up on their side of the beach and decide to bury him. After they finish burying him they run into J.J. and Lyssa, who had been living on freeze-dried food from the survival raft. In the jungle, Will makes a crude bow and arrow to hunt and defend himself. He later encounters a boar, which he shoots and injures, but later befriends and names it Rat-face, the nickname given to the first mate of the Phoenix, Mr. Radford, whom Will still doesn't remember. On the beach the other castaways worry about the smugglers finding them, or Will, who doesn't know of the danger. The castaways realize the smugglers chose the island for its isolated location as a rendezvous for trading illegal animal parts, and that rescue may not come for a long time or not at all. Meanwhile, in the jungle, Will slowly begins to remember the events of the past few weeks. He runs onto the beach at the same time the smugglers arrive at the castaways' campsite. He is not seen, and after a fight between the boar and the smugglers' Doberman pinscher, Will is shot in the thigh by a stray bullet after a series of gunshots, fired by the smugglers, to kill the boar. At the end of the book, the smugglers finally leave, after combing the island and making sure no one was present to witness their trade. During a walk through the jungle, trying to find medical supplies for Will, who now remembers everything, J.J. falls into a pit, in which is an unused WWII atomic bomb identified by Ian, codenamed Junior.

Book 3: EscapeEdit

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The pressure mounts when Will's injury starts to worsen and his fever rises. He begins to become delirious and slips into unconsciousness, and, as Ian states, if he is not taken to a doctor soon, he may not make it. He is given antibiotics from an abandoned army dispensary in the jungle, though the medicine is in short supply. They plan an escape, requiring J.J. to stow away in the smugglers' plane, be ransomed to his rich father, and arrange for the rescue of the castaways.

When the smugglers discover J.J. they threaten him, seeking information about anyone else on the island. He endures a broken arm rather than rat on his friends. He is nearly shot, before managing to prove that he is the son of a Hollywood director using his designer sunglasses, and can be ransomed for a worthwhile amount. Held captive for days, he realizes he will be killed once ransom is paid. He escapes, colliding with a police cruiser sent to investigate after JJ's father learns that JJ's designer glasses are being hawked by one of the kidnappers.

Meanwhile, on the island, Will's fever from the infected bullet wound grows worse, and Luke removes it with Charla's help and Ian's Discovery-channel knowledge, with supplies from the army camp near atomic bomb Junior. Will regains consciousness a few days later, and they all prepare to escape the island on the yellow raft. After sailing for 6 hours, a U.S. Marine scuba diver, contacts them and gets them onto a helicopter that is carrying J.J.

Back in civilization, all are present when the scientists open up Junior, to find the uranium core replaced by a piece of paper with the word "KA-BOOM!!". They decide to name the island Junior Island and put it on a map.

A man from the ship, identified as a Mr. Radford, is later arrested in a bar for six counts of attempted murder.

The story ends with a reunion by the castaways, who do not go to the beach.

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