cover image The Island of Excess Love

The Island of Excess Love

Francesca Lia Block. Holt/Ottaviano, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9631-6

Though filled with Block’s characteristically lush language and gorgeous imagery, this follow-up to Love in the Time of Global Warming lacks the adrenaline-charged urgency of its predecessor. Whereas the previous book drew inspiration from the Odyssey, this story is loosely based on Virgil’s Aeneid, opening with a murky series of hallucinations and events that drive Pen, her lover Hex, her younger brother Venice, and their friends away from their home and onto an abandoned ship that has appeared out of nowhere. A shipwreck lands the group on a paradisiacal island ruled by an antlered king. Despite Pen’s best intentions, she is drawn to the king and is eventually unfaithful to Hex. This act shatters the island’s illusions and propels Pen on a journey to seek redemption. Stirring as these events may sound, the net result is muffled. Because so much of the story revolves around Pen’s visions and dreams, the plot loses momentum, and the classical allusions and parallels feel comparatively forced this time around. Ages 14–up. Agent: Laurie Liss, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Aug.)