July 29, 2015

Devil's Pocket Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Hey everyone! I'm so excited to be kicking off the official blog tour for DEVIL'S POCKET! Today I'll be sharing my review of the book with you - and don't forget to enter the awesome giveaway! To follow the rest of the tour stops, click on the banner above for the full schedule.

Devil's Pocket (Phoenix Island #2)
Author: John Dixon
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Dystopia
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books


The follow-up to the critically acclaimed Phoenix Island, which reads like "Lord of the Flies meets Wolverine and Cool Hand Luke" (F. Paul Wilson, creator of Repairman Jack) and inspired the CBS TV show Intelligence.

With a chip in his head and hundreds more throughout his body, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman was turned from an orphan with impulse control issues into a super-soldier. Forced into the mercenary Phoenix Force group, he begins to fear he'll never escape. Sent to a volcanic island to fight for them, he'll compete in a combat tournament that awards teens with survival for merciless brutality. But just when all looks lost, he spies a friendly face...and possibly a way out.


“Dixon, using his experience in boxing, creates a fascinating young character in sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman. Phoenix Island is an excellent book that shows Dixon is well on his way in becoming a great storyteller.”–Suspense Magazine on Phoenix Island

“Fantastic… superbly suspenseful… unpredictable and frightening. Phoenix Island will blow you away.” – Mark Sullivan, New York Times bestselling author of Rogue and co-author of Private Games (with James Patterson)

"Lord of the Flies meets Wolverine and Cool Hand Luke. A tribute to the indomitable human spirit that challenges the mob and chooses values over expediency." -- F. Paul Wilson, creator of Repairman Jack.

"Crisply written and imaginative... Dixon's page-turner will keep readers of all ages enthralled." -- Kirkus Reviews
Devil's Pocket is the second installment in the young adult  science fiction/dystopian Phoenix Island series. It continues to follow our main character - Carl Freeman - as he plans his escape and total destruction of Phoenix Island and their program, all while pretending to be a loyal second-in-command to the head of the operation, Stark. An opportunity presents itself when Carl is told that he's being sent to fight in the Funeral Games on behalf of Phoenix Island. He starts thinking that this may finally be his chance to set his plan in motion. However, things take a dangerous and deadly turn when Carl and his fellow fighters arrive at the Funeral Games. He realizes just what the games are - a sporting event that 'the Few' who sponsor it use merely for entertainment and showing off their enormous amounts of wealth and power. Meanwhile, Carl and the rest of the fighters are pitted against one another in a tournament where you fight to kill - or to be killed. With all of the computer chips in his brain and throughout his body, Carl isn't incredibly concerned about losing in a fight. What he is afraid of is the possibility that he will have to kill in order to make it out alive himself, and that's not even considering his plans to take down the Island. Will he be able to do what he has to in order to make it out of there alive?

Since this is the second book in the series, I highly recommend reading the first book before this one. In some cases, you can read books in a series almost like standalone novels - which you could do with this if you really wanted to. There are a lot of references to past experiences, memories, and characters from the first book throughout this story and I believe that reading them in order will help clarify points in the story along with some of the characters' backgrounds. That being said, I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book. The plot sounded like it was full of action and violence - which I don't normally tend to read. I'm once again glad that I stepped outside my comfort zone to give this book a shot, because I truly enjoyed it - blood, fighting, action, and all.

As I mentioned, this book picks up where the first left off - with Carl having several computer chips implanted throughout his body and pretending to be a good soldier and second in command to the man behind the whole operation. We get to know Carl on a much deeper level in this book - it builds off of the information we learned about him in the first novel and expands it to make him more fully rounded and dimensional. We learn more about his past, things that have happened on the island - both to him and by him, along with watching him grow and mature even more than he had during the first book. By the end of this story, Carl has really grown into his role by maturing and integrating fully with the computer chips to make them work to his advantage. The story's written from the third person point of view, so we don't get to know Carl on the very personal level that first person POV allows; but I think that the author does a great job showing his growth and maturation along with conveying his thoughts, fears, emotions, and other important variables. 

The plot wasn't wholly original - when I read the description, my mind went immediately to The Hunger Games - but it's written and played out in a fresh way that made it all it's own. The plot does have elements that make it feel like other storylines that we're familiar with, but the author does a great job of taking these bits and pieces and melding them together with originality to create something different and new. As I said earlier, I don't normally gravitate towards books that have a lot of fighting in the plot - but I found myself completely riveted to this story. It drew me in right from the very beginning and didn't let go until the final words. During the Funeral Games, I was basically on the edge of my seat, reading as fast as I could to see what was going to happen. It was full of suspense, tension, and twists you don't see coming - then leave you with your mouth hanging open in surprise. The attention to detail, fast pace, vivid imagery, and intense descriptions allowed me to easily slip inside the world the author created - to the point where I felt like I was there myself, experiencing everything that Carl did. I was honestly shocked at how much I enjoyed this book along with how ingrained I became into the world and the story itself. It was a fantastic surprise and one that I definitely recommend to other readers. Even if you don't think this type of story is for you - give it a chance. It really might surprise you! I highly recommend it to fans of science fiction, dystopia, action, adventure, and suspense.

John Dixon’s debut novel, Phoenix Island, won the Bram Stoker Award and inspired the CBS TV series Intelligence. A former boxer, teacher, and stone mason, John lives in West Chester, PA, with his wife, Christina, and their freeloading pets. 

Author Links:

Book Links: 

(1) Winner will get a signed copy of PHOENIX ISLAND and DEVIL’S POCKET 
(Open To US Only | Must be 13+ To Enter



  1. John, Happy Early Birthday! Good luck with the book, and I hope I win.

  2. Happy Early Birthday! The books sound great, and I can't wait to read them. Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

  3. Happy Early Book Birthday! Hope to win. Sounds great!

  4. Hope you have a great birthday, John!