I almost felt like I didn't know what story the author was telling. I kept feeling angry at the parents, recklessly putting their children's lives in danger, in most circumstances I admire the character who plays within the rules, and takes those rules and slightly bends them to his or her own benefit. It felt more like a draft to me than a finished book.
The first half of this book felt really, really slow. I think a lot of people who would appreciate what Goodman does here won't make it far enough to see that she is doing something interesting.
This is the world the author creates for Honor Greenspoon- ten years old when the book starts, fourteen when it ends. Underneath the Earth Mother's rules and climate regulations is a sinister plan, which Honor, to her horror, realizes can mean the end of her life as she knows it. Of course, I wondered if the new world was predominantly white- the only reference made to the existence of people of color were some 'tanned girls with smooth black hair.' I don't think this was intentional- I don't know the author's background, but I think the general tendency with writers is to reflect the backgrounds they know in their writing. The best thing is, the book will make the reader, regardless of age, think about larger issues like environmental hazards, authority, politics, etc.
A girl moved to a town house in the Colonies on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. Back cover: About this island, Honor knows this much is true: Enclosure means safe and secure. Earth Mother and her Corporation have created New Weather. Honor doesn't fit in with the other children at the Old Colony School. Then she meets Helix, a boy who slowly helps her uncover a terrible secret about the Island: Sooner or later, those who do not fit disappear, and don't ever come back. The survivors band together--and Earth Mother along with seven council members who become the Corporation--seek to restore Earth and protect humanity forever and ever. Wanting to "protect" humanity by enclosing the islands--creating ceilings for Earth Mother's colonies. I've read reviews that mention they (as readers) had no attachment to the characters, to Honor and her family, but I can't say that I agree with them. And I've also read The Diamond of Darkhold, the fourth in the Ember series.) The book is built around a few too many coincidences for me. I can read a dozen dystopias a year...but when it comes down to it...The Giver is the only one that is able to hold onto the top spot year after year after year. It's too soon for me to know if Honor's story will "stick" with me now that I've finished the book. I would certainly recommend the book to those readers (like me) who can't get enough of either dystopian and/or post-apocalyptic fiction.
I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. One aspect of the book that I did find really interesting was the conundrum that Honors parents were in. A lot of people do prefer safety to freedom and I like that she points that out in the book.
It ended on essentially a cliffhanger, but unlike nearly every other YA book needing to be a trilogy, Goodman writes at the end, in an author's notes section that she likes ambiguity, ending with more questions than answers. Like many other YA novels, this is a story of oppression and how a young adult figures out how to overcome it, well at least it trends that way, with the lack of an ending, you are not quite sure if she did overcome it. That she opted to sandbag her story by stopping it rather than ending it really interfered with that enjoyment.
Ive read other books like this beforewith other worlds and over governmentsbut this was by far the best one yet! Honor and her parents live on an island under the watch of Earth Mother and her many rules, but Honors family doesnt follow most of those rules. Because in this world, if you dont follow Earth Mothers rules, you disappear.
And it was definitely interesting to see a book where it's the child who wants to conform while the parents are trying to subvert the government, while most YA books feature the opposite.
I just think it could have been a whole lot better.
In high school and college I focused on short stories and in June, 1986, I published my first in "Commentary." My first book was a collection of short stories, "Total Immersion." My second book, "The Family Markowitz" is a short story cycle that people tend to read as a novel. A rare collection of cookbooks stars in my novel, "The Cookbook Collector." A girl named Honor tries to save her mother in my dystopian YA novel, "The Other Side of the Island." My newest novel "The Chalk Artist" tells the story of a young teacher, a chalk artist, and a boy fast disappearing into video games.