Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Unique Hawaiian Setting Makes YA Dystopian Stand Out From the Crowd

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

It's been three years since Leilani moved to the Big Island with her family and Hawaii still doesn't feel like home.  Being hapa (half-Hawaiian, half-white) has a lot to do with it.  As does her epilepsy, a condition that marks her as even more different than her peers.  It's only while she's surfing the wild blue waves that 16-year-old Lei feels completely at peace with herself and her surroundings.  

Then, the unthinkable happens.  While Lei and her dad are in Oahu for an experimental epilepsy treatment, electronics fail.  Amid the confusion, they learn the world's being pummeled by tsunamis and other "natural" disasters.  Driven by panic and fear, people all over Honolulu are scrambling to get off the island, or at least stockpile as much food and water as they can.  Riots, looting and gang warfare takes over the streets.  Above it all, a strange new starscape fills the sky with an ominous warning—things have changed.  Drastically.

All Lei and her dad want is to get home.  With all the chaos, it's likely Lei's mother, grandfather and younger sister are already dead.  Still, they have to know.  Thus begins a hellish journey from Oahu to the Big Island.  Fraught with danger at every turn, it's a nightmare trip that may ultimately end in disappointment.  Or worse.  As Lei fights her way across the islands, she finally begins to understand her unique connection to her mother's native land—and the part she may play in saving it.  

Loaded with Hawaiian culture and folklore, The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan offers a fresh take on a common theme.  Although the tale as a whole isn't all that new and different, the atmospheric setting definitely makes this one stand out.  Add in sympathetic characters with a compelling story goal, an action-packed plot, an exciting sci fi twist, and you've got yourself an entertaining YA thriller.  The Islands at the End of the World will appeal to anyone who loves disaster/dystopian novels, but craves something a little bit different.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other YA disaster/dystopian novels, although no specific titles are coming to mind.)

Grade:

If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, scary images, and depictions of illegal drug use
To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

3 comments:

  1. This one sounds interesting and I would imagine the setting adds a lot to story. I'll put it on my wishlist.

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  2. Thanks for this review! Just as an fyi, I'm also an AZ author--I live in Flagstaff. Best wishes for 2015!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for letting me know! I put an Arizona Author badge on the review, so now you're official :) Lucky you, by the way -- if I could pick anywhere in Arizona to live, it would be Flagstaff.

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