Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review: The Island by Jen Minkman

Release Date: June 1, 2013
Publisher: Createspace
Source: NetGalley
Author links: Goodreads | Website
‘I walk toward the sea. The endless surface of the water extends to the horizon, whichever way I look. Our world is small. We are on our own, and we only have ourselves to depend on. We rely on the Force deep within us, as taught to us by our forefathers. If I were to walk westward from here, I would come across a barrier – the Wall. Behind it, there are Fools. At least, that’s what everyone says. I have never seen one.’
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?

This was a weird book. If it's so weird, then why am I giving it three stars? 
I'm just assuming you're asking that question, by the way.
Ok, ok, I'll tell you. Because I can't stop thinking about it, that's why!
At first it looks like it's just going to be your regular old dystopian novel about some strange society. And then you start to notice the Star Wars references. 
Star Wars!? That's right, my friend, Star Wars. As in, the huge blockbuster movie that was so popular, it made it seem as though it was a good idea to wear your hair like two giant cinnamon buns on either side of your head. That Star Wars. I mean, do you see anything in the blurb that screams, "The entire society is based on George Lucas fan fiction!". No. No, you do not.

In fairness, I just checked again and this was added to the blurb I recently read on Goodreads:
(Please note: this novella contains a few references to the famous sci-fi movie Star Wars which are pivotal to the plot. None of the characters in The Island are in any way related to the characters in the movie. Leia is named after one of the ancient heroes of her culture/religion.) 
A few references? Ha! As if!

At the age on ten, all children on the island leave home and cut all ties with their parents. They then go to live in a smaller community with other children under the age of eighteen in order to become independent...and find the Force within themselves. Once they get married, they return to the adult community, but they don't really have anything to do with their parents anymore. It's considered a sign of weakness or something. On the other side of a wall live another type of people whom they refer to as Fools, but they don't really know much about them. Well, other than they're foolishly waiting around for someone to save them, hence the name, Fools.

Leia is a young girl named after her ancestor, the famous mighty female twin of Luke. The story starts when she and her twin brother leave home to go live with the other kids. Flash forward a few years and things are falling apart on their Lord of the Flies compound. A ruthless leader has taken over, and Leia discovers that The Book may hold evidence that will make the others revolt against his leadership. Now, this Book is like their Bible, right? It's holy, sacred, infallible, and it holds the history of her people. So when she steals it, it's a pretty big deal.

Ok, the entire time I'm reading about this Book, I'm almost embarrassed for this girl. Seriously. These people based their lives on some poorly written Star Wars fanfic. Oh. My. God.

While she's trying to hide the Book (so she can read it's sacred information later), she meets a Fool who is searching for someone who washed up on their side of the shore. Less than witty banter ensues, and he agrees to keep the Book with him until they can meet again. Obviously, this kid is the Love Interest. I didn't feel much in the way of sparks, but it's a novella, so I let it slide. 
And honestly, any questions I had about their romance was going to take a backseat to the more important questions this book poses.

How the hell did some nerd with a lightsaber get his own island?! How did they convince other people to go along with this dumbass idea?! And most importantly, what was the author thinking?!

In my mind, I just couldn't see a way for Ms. Minkman to make this work. There was no reason for this crazy society to exist. At all. Ever. Then along came the ending. And you know what? It kind of made sense. Yeah, I know. I'm a surprised as you are.

So three big fat stars for pulling off the impossible, Ms. Minkman!


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