Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review: The Deep (The Island #3) by Jen Minkman

Release Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace
Source: Author
Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter

‘The world is never-ending.
I never realized just how much space there is – how far and wide the water around our island stretches out. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I may have believed that a second Wall ran around Tresco, containing the infinite waters so we wouldn’t all wash over the edge and plummet down into the depths.’
Leia and Walt are on their way to the Other Side, where the legendary land of Cornwall awaits them. Tony, their new friend, has told them that all wars of the past have been forgotten and the citizens of Bodmin and Dartmoor live in peace. People adhere to the tenets of an old religion that preaches forgiveness and non-violence.
However, Walt and Leia soon discover that even a peace-loving, ideal society like this one may have its flaws. While on a forbidden trip to Exeter, the old city of their ancestors, the two Islanders discover more about the new world than they ever bargained for.
Secrets run dark and passions run deep in this thrilling conclusion to the Island novella series.

Warning: Spoilers for the previous books in this review.

When I originally read The Island, I never in a million years imagined that it would end up making a point. I thought it was just this weird little book about a group of people who based their belief system on Star Wars fanfic. I mean, come on, how are you going to turn that into a poignant social commentary?

Can I get an amen, folks?

Ok, Minkman. You got me. I get it now.
In the original book, Leia starts questioning the society she grew up in, and ends up turning their world upside down. She finds out that their 'religion' is based off of the diary of a young boy, who was one of the survivors of germ warfare that wiped out the world as we know it. The parents of the original inhabitants of the island died before they could reunite with their children, so the backbone of the two societies were founded by the twelve and under crowd. Eventually, the children split into two groups: the ones who believed their parents would come for them one day, and the ones who thought they had been abandoned.
Leia's side of the island followed the The Force, and revered The Book...which, in reality, was a wonky version of some Star Wars stories. To the inhabitants of the other side of the island, they were known as The Unbelievers.
On the flip side, you learn about Walt's half of the island in the second book, The Waves. Leia knows this group only as The in, foolish for waiting around for someone to save them. And, in essence, that's what Walt's town does. Their 'religion' is more traditional, in that they worship a goddess named Annabelle, who has promised to return for them one day.
And that makes a hellava lot more sense than believing in the prophet Luke, and trying to find the Force within yourself!
Or does it?

The Deep takes off in another direction, as Walt and Leia make the journey across the sea to the Old World. And, once again, what they find there surprises them. The inhabitants follow the New Testament, and seem to have a finally come up with a way for everyone to live in peace and harmony.
But the price for no war doesn't come cheap, and it might be higher than either of them are willing to pay.
Meanwhile, back on the island, the Unbelievers and the Fools are trying to find a way to rebuild their societies. Two of the characters from the other books, Alisa (Walt's best friend) and Saul (the unhinged leader of the juvenile Unbelievers), play a large role in the story.
Alisa narrates the portions of the book set on the island, while Leia is our narrator for what's going on in the New World.
There's a buttload of themes that we've got going on between the two points of view. Redemption and personal freedom were both heavily featured, however, the surprising 'lesson' was something I totally didn't see coming.
The running theme of all three books is the blind devotion to their respective religious teachings.
In the first book, I laughed, because...Fanfic! Bwahahahaha! How stupid do you have to be?
The second book had a more plausible belief system, but it was still weird that all these people thought some magical goddess was going to sail up in a ship...and take them all away to paradise someday.
And in this one, Miknkman showed a twisted form of Christianity being abused by the people in power.
Ha! Like THAT could ever happen!
How laughable was it that Leia & Co. blindly followed a book that was written long ago?
In a galaxy far far away...
How stupid were they to believe in the undisputed truth to words that were written down by people no longer alive to explain their meaning?
And though Minkman calls into question blind faith, she does it without malice. Even while the characters are struggling with the realization that they've been duped, they still find solace in the belief that there is more out there than just what we can touch and see.

My suggestion is to read these books in order.
Wallow in the ridiculous nature of Leia's society's foundations.
Giggle when you read about Walt's belief in Annabelle.
Because it makes it all the more impressive when the rug gets yanked out from under you in this book.
Well played, Minkman. Well played.


Jen Minkman said...

Thanks a lot, Anne! That is exactly what I was trying to do, and I'm happy you don't think my ideas about religion are malicious - far from it. I just think there are many ways to find your truth (not even THE truth), and God is too big to fit into one religion anyway. :)


I'm glad you liked it, Jen! I hope you write a few more stories in this world, 'cause I'd love to find out what these poor kids run into on the next island! LOL!
And I feel the same way about faith and belief in God. Love the way you put your ideas to work in these novels!

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