The book: The Island by Jen Minkman
Rating: 4 out of 5 HELL YEAH’s!
Summary: Leia lives on the Island, a world in which children leave their parents to take care of themselves when they are ten years old. Across this Island runs a wall that no one has ever crossed. The Fools living behind it are not amenable to reason – they believe in illusions. That’s what The Book says, the only thing left to the Eastern Islanders by their ancestors. But when a strange man washes ashore and Leia meets a Fool face to face, her life will never be the same. Is what she and her friends believe about the Island really true? Or is everyone in their world, in fact, a Fool? (Taken from Amazon.com)
My feelings on the author: According to her website, Jen Minkman is self-published — who doesn’t LOVE the friggin’ underdog? Because, come on, the self-published authors out there are taking a chance and at the moment, it’s a tough game to break into. It feels good, like you’re shopping at the local store instead of the mega-corporation (ya know, if you’re into that sort of thing). After reading this novel, and lurking on her twitter and website — I’m rooting for her in every way. Let me tell you why…
What I liked about the novel: Right off the bat, my go to answer would be: The premise and Leia, the MC. The premise is devilishly wonderful. Throughout the book I was sitting there with an evil grin, saying to myself, “oh man!! this is REALLY gonna ruffle some feathers” — and that’s the kinda premise I love to read, ESPECIALLY in a dystopian novel. For one, the premise is COMPLETELY, and utterly and almost embarrassingly, possible — making this an excellent example of true dystopian-ness. But second, Minkman’s idea is saddening — from our twisted idea of when someone reaches “grown-up, adult” at a magic number, to our alienation from family, or to a scary possibility of our religious past. Or all of the above. This is a challenge to our mindset, and it begs the question — are you a Fool too?
But then there’s Leia! Leia is no stand-back and wait kinda gal. I loved that Leia did exactly what I would have done, not to mention I loved how open-minded the children were (well, most ;P). I don’t want to give too much away, but Leia and all of the children did not disappoint. I hate it when people fight change for fighting sakes and drag out the inevitable change anyway. Minkman gets to the point and runs with it. Nice!
What I didn’t like about the novel: These really aren’t even things I don’t like, just things I wish Minkman fixed. First, I felt some details could have been presented earlier in the novel to help with clarity. For some reason, I wasn’t quite grasping all of this was happening on one island. I kept thinking the kids were moved to a different island — all Lord of the Flies’ish. There were other little things I could have used earlier that wouldn’t spoil the ending and would help with setting. Those little details being shifted around to the front would have helped with immersing into their world more quickly. Secondly, a novella?? *whine, snort, groan* Minkman really could have delved deep here and sucked me in for hundreds of pages. Her writing is clear, I already spouted on and on about how much I love the premise, but so many things are left feeling brief. I wanted more WORDS to fully see how things gradually develop. Minkman! I wanted MORE! 🙂
Would I recommend the novel: Uhh definitely! The beauty here is that even though I wished it was MORE, the shortness allows it to reach a broader audience. I can suggest this to kiddo’s just breaking into the Young Adult level and it’s not going to overwhelm them in size. Fantastic! To everyone else, BUY IT! and then read it.. duh. Yes, it’s worth it! Oh, and if you’re a Star Wars fan — you’ll giggle and love it. If you’re not familiar with the Star Wars franchise, then crawl out from the rock you’ve been living under and pay attention. The novel still works without knowing this reference, but it would help and be that much more entertaining if you did. So like.. wiki it up or some shit, and then get Minkman’s book. Trust me, it’s relevant.
Jen Minkman — if you ever turn this into a full blown series, I’ll want it! I’m hooked!
Do you plan on reading this book?