The first general assessment of The Desert and the Sea is a starred review in Kirkus.

There’s plenty of gallows humor as Moore settles in for his long spell of unhappiness. When his young captors, ‘stoned on narcotic cud,’ blast music from their cellphones, he asks a senior to get them to turn it down. ‘They’re soldiers,’ he’s told by way of explanation, to which he replies, ‘ask them to be quiet soldiers.’ … A deftly constructed and tautly told rejoinder to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, sympathetic but also sharp-edged.