American crime and suspense writer Sean Doolittle has penned the interesting drama, Device Free Weekend about 6 former friends who are promised a fun-filled all expense-paid weekend on the private island of Ryan Cloverhill; their old buddy turned multi-millionaire, and founder of a massive media platform that is taking the world by storm.

He has arranged a very special and memorable reunion, just for them; The Stillwater Seven. It has been a long time coming.

Ryan’s only stipulation is that they check their phones and other electronic devices at the door.

Some of the group have known each other since college; others since childhood. There are current lovers and past triangles.
Everyone is happy to be together, until The Big Chill becomes chilling.

Ryan has ulterior motives. He has actually recruited his friends to solve a real ethical dilemma based on the Trolley Problem. If you’ve never heard of that, look it up. Seriously. Look it up.

It may seem better to sacrifice one person to save many, but what if the one is a cherished loved one? What choice could you live with? What if you receive a massive amount of money as a result? What if your choice has the power to destroy the world as we know it?

So many nuances, so little time, and an evil genius to report to.

Ryan is playing a dangerous game, disappearing and communicating with the others from the safety of a boat just off the island equipped with all the surveillance he needs to observe the group 24/7.

Ryan has established a deadline for all of the participants to reach an agreement, or he will carry out his own deadly plan. Doing nothing is not an option.

Escape is not an option.

The remaining six are trapped in mechanized house that has become an impenetrable fortress. The other two, who stepped out and foiled Ryan’s initial concept, are trapped outside in the heat with nowhere to go.

Ryan, who has his own issues to contend with, has clearly come unglued. As the eccentric madman, he harbors another group of hostages and likewise holds their fate in his hands.

Device Free Weekend, is an engaging read with an interesting concept.

Scary, intriguing, and often exciting, it certainly encourages reflection on the impact of social media.

Generally an engaging read, my pet peeves come from relatively ordinary characters except for Ryan, and the group’s albeit understandable distraction from the task at hand. (I wish that Device Free Weekend would have delved more into the ethical dilemma debate.

Likewise, everything wrapped up quickly, too easily, and with less drama than I’d anticipated.

That being said, Device Free Weekend is entertaining and worth the read.

Device Free Weekend
Sean Doolittle
Grand Central Publishing 2023
289 pages

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