Title: The Islands at the end of the World
Author: Austin Aslan
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Dystopian
Opens: They’ve been getting bigger all evening.
Most people think of Hawaii as a holiday destination but for Leilani and her family it is home. Leaving the rest of the family on the Big Island, THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD opens with Leilani and her father travelling to Honolulu on the island of Oahu for medical treatment. Leilani has epilepsy and the specialist wants to try an experimental drug on the sixteen-year-old to try and bring her fits under better control. Not long after their arrival a global disaster strikes – power fails across the world and almost at once power dependent technology no longer works. The end starts innocently; against the background of the main characters chatting to each other there are TV reports about a missing US president, other world leaders not being in the public eye, and then a televised announcement to the nation by the President is cut off mid-sentence before he can announce whatever it is he was going too.
Now Hawaii is cut off from the rest of the world as there are no communications, no power and planes aren’t working either. Tourists gradually become aware that they are not going to be able to get home, and locals who want the tourists gone are forced to start learning traditional ways to survive very quickly, battles break out between the two groups. Very quickly there is a decent into anarchy. Leilani and her father naturally decide to travel back to their home island and join the rest of their family, but that’s not easy when there is no transport, no communication, Leilani is having fits, there are people wanting to kill them and Tsunami’s, caused by god knows what, hitting the coastlines. On top of this there is a strange green glow in the sky that looks like a giant orchid.
As the story follows the edge of the seat adventures of Leilani and her dad the reader gradually learns what may be happening in the world – and eventually what may just stop it all. The answer to how to stop the end of the world seems far-fetched and is linked to Leilani. She herself rejects as simply to ludicrous when it is first mentioned to her, but fear of what may happen to her and her family results in her being open to anything. Certainly the reality is that with the end of power nuclear power stations are going to start melting down all over the world releasing tons of radiation into the air.
THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD is a blend of ecology, Hawaiian mythology and technology dependence. The overall scenario of something happening in the world at a political level followed by a sudden loss of power globally resulting in loss of technology and basic resources is horrifyingly plausible. I would like to think that survivors would not descend into chaos and violence quite so quickly – but you see how people do anything to survive in just a local flood or cyclone, so understand that often, at its base level, human nature is out for self-preservation. Leilani and her father were nice people – who sometimes had to do not nice things in their struggle to get home. When I say not nice – they stole food and supplies and protected themselves when threatened. Not something they would have done under normal circumstances. Leilani is also worried about her condition when her medication runs out. And finally a YA dystopian with no central romance – oh Leilani likes boys, but when the world is falling apart around you, you just want your mum, and it the love of family which drives Leilani and her dad. Overall author Austin Aslan has done a magnificent job of combining mysticism, mythology and science and I can’t wait until the release of the follow-up book ‘The Girl at the Center of the World’ – there is a teaser chapter for the final book at the end. Speaking of the ending most of the lose ending from the story are tied up just leaving the main lead into book two. I am really looking forwards to how everything is tied up and if the world will be saved.
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B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.