August 19, 2014

The Islands at the End of the World Blog Tour: Review

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Islands at the End of the World! Today I have my review of the book to share with you!

The Islands at the End of the World

Author: Austin Aslan
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Dystopia
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books


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.

A powerful story enriched by fascinating elements of Hawaiian ecology, culture, and warfare, this captivating and dramatic debut from Austin Aslan is the first of two novels. The author has a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
The Islands at the End of the World is a dynamic young adult dystopian novel about what would happen to people living on an island or islands - like Hawaii - if a global disaster struck. This is precisely what happens in the novel, and our main character Leilani and her father must revert to survival skills in order to return home to their family. It's a fascinating take on the apocalyptic/dystopian genre that makes you think about things in the world differently.

I have to start by saying that this book was fantastic and a complete breath of fresh air into the dystopian genre. Most novels that deal with the end of the world or a dystopia are centered somewhere inland; whereas this book is set on the islands of Hawaii. Before reading this story, I hadn't really thought about what would happen to people living on an island if a global disaster should occur. It would be completely nightmarish - being alone and disconnected from the rest of the entire world. Shedding light on this possibility was obviously part of the author's point - and it was an intriguing one that made me really sit back and think about it. 

Our heroine, Leilani, feels like an outsider in her own world. She's half-Hawaiian and half-white with epilepsy on top of that. It was easy to identify with Lei right from the beginning of the book. Who hasn't felt different or left out at least once in their lives? She's a fantastic heroine for the book - smart, strong, determined, and a fighter. It turns out that what made her an outsider might just be what saves them all. I loved watching Lei's character grow and mature throughout the book as she grows into her self and assumes responsibilities and trials that she never imagined. The plot was sensational - as I said before. It really hits on ideas and possibilities that never occurred to me and it is completely unique in the dystopia genre. The writing is magnificent with a fast pace that had me reading as quickly as I could to see what was going to happen next. The descriptions and imagery throughout the novel were incredibly vivid. I felt like I was right beside Lei the entire time, experiencing each situation - good and bad - with her. I loved how the author put in facts about Hawaii - it's culture, economy, and setting. I loved learning everything that I could about the islands and I think that adding in those elements really gave the book a depth that it wouldn't have had otherwise. I'm hoping that these interesting tidbits about Hawaii and other things are expanded on in the sequel. Overall, this was a really thought provoking novel that also combines several genres - such as action, science fiction, dystopia, and adventure - to create a wholly original and unique story that has something for everyone. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy the dystopian genre as well as those wishing to read something new and exciting. I'll definitely be reading the sequel as soon as it's released!

Austin Aslan has been an EMT, a community organizer, a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, and he once ran a Congressional campaign in Oregon. He was inspired to write his debut novel, The Islands at the End of the World, while living on the Big Island of Hawaii. He earned a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. His research on rare Hawaiian plants located on the high slopes of Mauna Loa won him a pair of destroyed hiking boots, a tattered rain jacket, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. He lives outside Tucson, Arizona, deep in the Sonoran Desert, where he pets scorpions and hugs saguaro cacti with his high-school-sweetheart wife and their two young children. Austin is pursuing a PhD in geography at the University of Arizona and thinking up new stories while conducting ecosystem resilience research atop the Peruvian Andes. He continues to write fiction and looks forward to the publication of his "Islands at the End" sequel, "The Girl at the Center of the World" in the fall of 2015. (Taken from Goodreads)

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* A big thank you to the wonderful people at Random House Children's Books for sending me a copy of the book for review! *

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Steph! Thanks for this thoughtful review! I've enjoyed your blog. What a fun stop on the tour! Best of luck with your blogging. -Austin