Sunday, August 17, 2014

Book Review: The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan

The Islands at the End of the World
By Austin Aslan
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Source: Publisher
Summary: Right before my eyes, my beautiful islands are changing forever. And so am I...

Sixteen-year-old Leilani loves surfing and her home in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. But she's an outsider - half white, half Hawaiian, and an epileptic.

While Lei and her father are on a visit to Oahu, a global disaster strikes. Technology and power fail, Hawaii is cut off from the world, and the islands revert to traditional ways of survival. As Lei and her dad embark on a nightmarish journey across islands to reach home and family, she learns that her epilepsy and her deep connection to Hawaii could be keys to ending the crisis before it becomes worse than anyone can imagine.

Review: I normally don't read books about the apocalypse, but this one sounded intriguing being set in Hawaii with a 16-year-old epileptic main character. I knew going into the story that it was going to be a unique read, but I definitely have never read a book as powerful, emotional, and desperate as The Islands at the End of the World. 

16-year-old Leilani wants nothing more than a normal life, which is pretty hard to do as an epileptic half-white, half-hawaiin teen living on the big island of Hawaii. Lei has felt like an outsider at school and only finds relief surfing, which her epilepsy has made dangerous to do. Lei and her dad decide to go to Oahu to test a drug to treat her epilepsy when global disaster strikes and every electrical device and mode of communication shuts down. Facing a world that's falling apart, Lei and her father embark on a dangerous journey that tests their strength both mentally and physically as they attempt to find their way back home to the rest of their family on the main island. 

Have you ever wondered what it be like when the world was ending? When all communication is cut off and there's no electricity, appliances, or personal electronics? Well, Austin Aslan made those questions a reality for Lei and let me tell you, things got crazy. Under extreme situations, the true side of people comes out and not everyone is inherently good. No, Lei and her father encountered very scary people who were either power hungry or only cared about themselves. They tried surviving both on their own and under control of the military throughout their journey, exploring the many different aspects of survival during a global disaster. The situations they faced were downright frightening and I was completely drawn into their perilous journey towards reuniting with their family. 

The only problem I had with this story, though, was the family Lei was so desperate to get back to. Lei would talk about how much she missed her mother brother, grandfather, and best friend, but I didn't really feel her immense connection to them when they were together in the beginning of the novel when life was normal. I wish we had gotten a bit more of their "before" life and understood just how connected Lei was with her family so that we could become connected with them ourselves. When it came to Lei's father, though, we were able to witness her deep love and connection to him as they both tried to survive a world that was completely hopeless and desperate. 

Overall, this was a great novel that dealt with the apocalyptic storyline. I loved how it was set in Hawaii, an environment I am not familiar with at all and rarely read about. Lei was so proud of her Hawaiian heritage and it was interesting to learn the culture differences and stigmas that were present there. While I was a little skeptical of the sci-fi elements at the end of the novel when Lei was convinced that her epilepsy uncovered answers about the mysterious things going on, I really enjoyed the complexity of the story and how the author backed the sci-fi elements up with actual scientific facts that kind of made sense to the reader. If you want a very unique, emotional, and distressing story about a global disaster occurring while trapped on an island with no communication to the rest of the world, you should definitely check out The Islands at the End of the World.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this review, Jessica! Glad you enjoyed the book. Get blog, btw!


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