The Other Side of the Island

Allegra Goodman, Author . Razorbill $16.99 (280p) ISBN 978-1-59514-195-8

From Kaaterskill Falls to Intuition , Goodman's fiction proves that she can tackle big subjects with unobtrusively graceful and perceptive prose. Her first YA offering, a dystopian eco-fantasy in which a malevolent Corporation lulls North America's few remaining inhabitants into complacency with memory-altering substances, misinformation, fake skies and a leader named Earth Mother, is a top-notch genre piece—but not her most robust storytelling. Honor is 10 when she and her parents are forcibly brought back from the supposedly uninhabitable North to Island 365; in one of the few but clever twists on convention, it is Honor's parents who actively rebel, and Honor who embraces Earth Mother's laws, at least at first. When her parents are inevitably caught, it falls (predictably) to Honor and another child to rescue them; this plot line depends on coincidence and inconsistencies, but dramatic pacing and otherwise shrewd psychological insight help camouflage these flaws. A subtle frame places an omniscient narrator in an even more distant future; in slyly casting a retrospective eye on her story, the author opens the apparent outcome to the reader's questioning, and this may be the most innovative aspect of her novel. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/22/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4178-3175-3
Paperback - 280 pages - 978-1-59514-196-5
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