Books Magazine

Book Review: The Other Side of the Island

By Storycarnivores @storycarnivores

other side of the islandTitle: The Other Side of the Island
Author: Allegra Goodman
Series: N/A
Publisher: Razorbill
Publish Date: May 14, 2009
Genre: YA Dystopian
Pages: 288
Source: Bought
Buy the BookThe Other Side of the Island

Synopsis: 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. (Via Goodreads)

Shaunta’s Review:

There was so much to like about The Other Side of the Island. The main character, Honor Greenspoon, was compelling and so well drawn. The author subverted the rebellious-child trope, making it the parents who are Unpredictable with a capital U and the kid the one who will do anything to get them to toe the line. I loved the Twilight Zone feeling to the book, where we are asked from the beginning to come along for the ride, even though the circumstances of the story are hard to believe.

The Other Side of the Island reminded me of Lois Lowry’s The Giver. Especially in the way that Goodman took regular things and subtly made them so creepy. Just the act of giving a little boy fish to eat or going to school everyday are scarier than the dystopian aspects of this book. Goodman’s writing style is spare and easy to read, but it digs into the main characters psyche in such a way that you have to keep reading.

I’ve had problems with some dystopian books in the past, where the circumstances of the broken society are too difficult for me to imagine actually happening. Even books I’ve loved, like The Hunger Games, I sometimes struggled with because it was too hard for me to fully buy that society would allow the games to happen (or whatever.) Any dystopia is going to have difficult-to-believe aspects, but the best ones, like this one, are just believable enough to keep from pulling the reader out of the story. Also, Goodman wrote The Other Side of the Island like a fable or an elaborate metaphor. I was able to suspend my disbelief and follow the author into her story, and to me that’s the best sign of a good book.

The Other Side of the Island is about the dangers of becoming too dependent on feeling safe. Lots of dystopian books start out with the character in obvious, direct danger. This one is the opposite. The Greenspoon family starts out in a cocoon of supposed protection. I loved the way that Goodman turned things upside down in this story. I really enjoyed reading it.

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