Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Review: The Other Side of the Island

The Other Side of the Island
By Allegra Goodman
Synopsis: (From Goodreads)
Honor and her parents have been reassigned to live on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. Life is peaceful there—the color of the sky is regulated by Earth Mother, a corporation that controls New Weather, and it almost never rains. Everyone fits into their rightful and predictable place. . . .
Except Honor. She doesn’t fit in, but then she meets Helix, a boy with a big heart and a keen sense for the world around them. Slowly, Honor and Helix begin to uncover a terrible truth about life on the Island: Sooner or later, those who are unpredictable disappear . . . and they don’t ever come back.

Why I Picked This Book:  I spent a crazy night searching for dystopian reads, and this was one title that popped up to catch my attention.  When I found it on sale, I snagged it. (Note: This book has two different covers.  This is the one I happened to buy.)

My Thoughts:
The Other Side of the Island rings a lot like The Giver, but with added in "the world has flooded and weather is evil" aspects.  The writing was very easy to follow, and the premise was simple, which was a a nice change.  Though I did enjoy parts and sections of this book, the over all product was a slight let down.  Sadly.

What would the world be like if everything was flooded, except for a scattering of islands?  What if there were a way to control the very weather, to guarantee no more natural disasters?  In The Other Side of the Island, that is just what they have done.  Earth Mother, the grandmotherly ruler of the islands, has found a way to enclose; to build a dome and control weather.  Not only that... she controls the people as well.

Censorship of literature, memorized prayers and devotions, evident brainwashing and harsh teaching.  People who, when they don't fit in with the ideals of the society, disappear forever.  Oooo, eerie.

The story felt more based on the premise than the character.  A total of about 3 or so years passes throughout the book, the MC Honor growing up very quickly as the world revolves around her.  I had a hard time ever growing attachments to any character because of this.  Everything went by quickly, characters came and went, and I couldn't form a solid connection to the story, aside from the fact that I seemed to be having as hard a time at remembering as the characters did.

I had a hard time believing in the weather.  (What a strange thing to say...) At one point they are talking about how the two poles are covered in a dome and completely controlled.  Then in the next breath they are talking about how their island is controlled, though not enclosed.  I was confused.  How can you just control weather?  Were they in a dome or not?  What about the storm that hit and totally ransacked the island at the beginning of the book?  Finally, I had to just shake my head and read on, accepting the fact that I was confused but would have to deal with it.

There were many aspects of the story that, if they had been touched on more, could have made for a freakishly dynamic plot.  People disappearing and turning in mindless drones who are controlled with drugs.  Not only that, but then they are turned around to serve the very people that used to be family and friends.  Awesome.  But it doesn't dwell on it.  I wanted more.  I loved the ideas, and craved more.

This book was obviously written for a younger reading audience.  And it is very appropriate for such.  It is a great introduction to the dystopian genre, lacking the sexual and physical intensities more recent books include, and touching mostly on the idea of controlled society, survival, and the battle to learn.

I did enjoy The Other Side of the Island.  Though not my favorite recent read, it was an enjoyable easy reader that rose many questions in my mind.  I will just need to seek some of the answers myself.

Now, time to check my weather reports...

My rating
(3 out of 5 stars)


Jess said...

Another thorough review! I really love how you go into detail and describe not only the plot, but the writing too. It makes me remember that you can learn about writing from any book, even (and sometimes especially) if that book has weaknesses. Thanks Jenni!

Jenni Merritt said...

Thanks for the comment Jess! It makes me happy knowing my book reviews are appreciated. :D

Trisha said...

Hmm, yeah...not a fan of being confused and therefore pulled out of the story, like that. Oh well, sometimes it's worth reading on and, like you did, shaking your head & ignoring the confusing stuff.


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