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Lord of the Fly Fest by Goldy Moldavsky 

You don’t have to love Lord of the Flies to love this book! 

Like many others, Rafaela "Rafi" Francisco had ponied up all her savings to attend Fly Fest, the ultimate music festival and hottest party in the Caribbean. However, Rafi had an agenda for attending. It's not that she wasn't a music lover or wanted to party with the rich and famous, but rock superstar River Stone was a headliner, and Rafi was going to get an interview with him at all costs. Rafi was a fledgling podcaster, and after a mildly successful debut year, her true-crime show, Musical Mysteries, needed a spectacular second season to draw in sponsorships and more listeners. 

Australian River Stone had burst on the music scene a couple of years earlier with a tragic tale of love and loss that shot him to the top of the charts and into the hearts of millions of loyal fans. Before he'd come to the music world's attention, River, a struggling singer-songwriter, and his girlfriend had headed outback for a camping trip. While River napped, his girlfriend had written him a "Dear John" letter, taken his car, and disappeared, leaving him stranded miles away from help. The girlfriend was never heard from again. The police investigated and backed up River's story, but his explanation always sounded suspicious to Rafi. Now, after a bit of research and a whole lot of speculation, she intended to garner an interview with the superstar and ask the tough question everyone else seemed to give him pass on: "What really happened to Tracy?" She fully intended to interrogate him into confessing he was a murderer. 

But that was the plan before she and the other Fly Fest attendees, most of whom were social media influencers, were dropped off on the tiny Caribbean island for the festival. When Rafi and the others arrived on the island, there was no sign of any festival: no greeters or transportation. There was no evidence of the promised private villas or gourmet chefs. In fact, there was no food or water available except for what was growing or raining from the sky. Worse yet, there was no cell service for the Instagram and TikTok movers and shakers. The festival was a scam, and the promoters had left the hapless attendees to fend for themselves for the next seven days. 

Apparently, rumors that something was off about Fly Fest had floated about during the week leading up to the event, and at the last minute, all the musical guests, save one, River Stone, had canceled. His current girlfriend, Hella Badid, the supermodel spokesperson for the event, was supposed to have met him there, but she had missed her flight and was a "no show." With her quarry in sight, though, Rafi intended to make the best of the situation and get her story. But when a famous social media influencer goes missing, and the last person she was seen with was River Stone, Rafi realizes that maybe cornering a serial killer on a remote tropical island wasn't her best plan. 

Lord of the Fly Fest was a fun and clever story made even more delightful by the allusions and parallels to William Golding's classic, Lord of the Flies. Rafi is surrounded by social media influencers and one of the few voices of reason on the island. She is a wonderful character, but the author also has a variety of fabulous secondary ones that parody the influencer communities of Instagram and Tiktok. I laughed until I about cried several times over the absurdities the situation created and the exaggerated but realistic portrayals of the various lifestyle influencers still trying to maintain their online habits. Throwing back to the classic foundation novel, one character lovingly calls his followers "piggies." The author creates a remote island setting, frightening and surreal, reminiscent of the island from Golding's work, and includes similar names and outcomes that echo the original. There is so much to love about this story, especially if you're a fan of the Lord of the Flies novel or movies. 

But parody aside, the plot is about Rafi exposing River Stone, a young man who has been very kind to her, as a murderer based on very little evidence. She initially feels she is above the shallowness of the rest of the stranded festival-goers (and yes, they are shallow and awful people) but comes to realize she's not perfect either nor entitled to be so righteous. There is a nice revelation of truths, and mistakes are made, leading to her heartfelt offer and attempt to redeem herself. There is a great wrap-up that closes out the hanging subplots, too. 

I recommend LORD OF THE FLY FEST to readers of young adult fiction, especially those who are fans of online social media or social media-related stories or have read Lord of the Flies. 

#CaribbeanIsland #LiveYourBestLife #NoThreeHourCruise #WheresMyVilla #AreBananasGlutenFree #DoesThisPigDungMakeMyButtLookFat 

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author or publisher through NetGalley and TBR and Beyond Book Tours.

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