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The Other Side of the Island

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Earth Mother is always watching... And one brave girl is about to find out why. From New York Times bestselling author Allegra Goodman comes a post apocalyptic novel about love, loss, and the power of human choice.

Honor and her parents have been reassigned to live on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. Life is peaceful there, the color of the sky is regulated by Earth Mother, a corporation that controls New Weather, and it almost never rains. Everyone fits into their rightful and predictable place. . . .

Except Honor. She doesn't fit in, but then she meets Helix, a boy with a big heart and a keen sense for the world around them. Slowly, Honor and Helix begin to uncover a terrible truth about life on the Island: Sooner or later, those who are unpredictable disappear . . . and they don't ever come back.

288 pages, Paperback

First published September 4, 2008

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About the author

Allegra Goodman

32 books614 followers
Hello, Good Readers!

My new novel SAM is about a young girl's exuberance, wonder, and ambition as she comes of age.

Jenna Bush Hager picked SAM for her Today Show book club and said, "Sam is about as perfect of a coming-of-age story as I have ever read."

About me: I was born in Brooklyn, but I grew up in Honolulu.

I now live in Cambridge, MA and I own boots. In addition to writing fiction, I read a lot and teach on occasion. In my free time, I swim and walk around the city.

I have four children, now getting pretty grown up. My oldest son (an economist) reads everything. My second son (a law student and grad student in political theory) reads mostly non-fiction, although I try to get him to read novels. My third son (a college student) loves science fiction, fantasy, and history. My daughter (a college student and aspiring human centered designer) enjoys biography and novels--but only if they have exceptionally beautiful covers!

I read fiction, biography, history, poetry, and books about art. I also enjoy discovering new authors in translation.

When I was a seven-year-old living in Hawaii, I decided to become a novelist--but I began by writing poetry and short stories.

In high school and college I focused on short stories, and in June, 1986, I published my first in "Commentary."

My first book was a collection of short stories, "Total Immersion."

My second book, "The Family Markowitz" is a short story cycle that people tend to read as a novel.

Much of my work is about family in its many forms. I am also interested in religion, science, the threats and opportunities of technology, and the exploration of islands, real, and imaginary.

My novel, "Kaaterskill Falls" travels with a group of observant Jews to the Catskill Mountains.

"Intuition" enters a research a lab, where a young post-doc makes a discovery that excites everybody except for one skeptic--his ex-girlfriend.

A rare collection of cookbooks stars in my novel, "The Cookbook Collector."

A girl named Honor tries to save her mother in my dystopian YA novel, "The Other Side of the Island."

With Michael Prince, I have co-authored a supercool writing textbook! If you teach composition, take a look at "Speaking of Writing: a Brief Rhetoric."

If you'd like to learn more about me and about each of my books, check out my website:


Find me on Facebook:


Or on Instagram:


And of course, you can check out the reviews I post here on Goodreads!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 601 reviews
Profile Image for Laura.
773 reviews47 followers
April 7, 2009
I'm harsher on this than other books, simply because these types of novels are my favorite, dystopian world building, coming of age, growing to realize that what you've been told your entire life is wrong...

This fell flat for me. I almost felt like I didn't know what story the author was telling. Is this the parent's story, or the child's story? I never felt invested in either. I kept feeling angry at the parents, recklessly putting their children's lives in danger, in most circumstances I admire the character who plays within the rules, and takes those rules and slightly bends them to his or her own benefit. Not the couple who ignore the rules and then get plucked out of their children's lives leaving them to fend for themselves.

I saw very little character growth in Honor, her as a ten year old and her as a fourteen year old were the same. Too much of the book felt like "here is an example of why the society is bad" "hey look an incidence of control", the society was never shown as evil, and instead of realistic subtlety, it just felt not fully fleshed out. I had a hard time believing that these "orderlies" were fully brainwashed into doing complex tasks with no rebellion, but Pamela could send a code in base two to her daughter. The ending wrapped up very quickly and easily, with no sense to me of immediate danger.

I guess I am enumerating the flaws because they so easily don't have to be there. It felt more like a draft to me than a finished book. Some more focus, attention to audience and which story exactly should be told. I think I should try the author's adult books, I think I might find ther focus matching the writing there.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sesana.
5,339 reviews343 followers
December 10, 2015
The first half of this book felt really, really slow. There's a lot of setup, and not just the world building, which is pretty strong. Goodman does a good job of building a society with very strict rules that are fairly easy to follow. Building it around the threat of global warming grounded it in reality enough to be at least somewhat believable. The first half is basically about the main character, Honor, adjusting to a very controlling totalitarian environment. It was a little annoying to me to watch how completely her parents refused to do the same. Yes, they're very brave to resist, and they have incredible willpower under the circumstances. But maybe they should have spent a bit more time thinking about how their actions would affect their family. But I was viewing them through Honor's often frustrated viewpoint.

The ending was surprisingly ambiguous, and I really liked that. There's no epilogue, no second book, just an ending that leaves a lot open and a lot left unanswered. That was kind of refreshing. But there's still that struggle to get through the first half. I think a lot of people who would appreciate what Goodman does here won't make it far enough to see that she is doing something interesting.
Profile Image for Salma.
146 reviews61 followers
February 2, 2011
What if society as we knew it ended through a series of natural disasters? And a woman (who resembles the classic cookie-baking grandmother) rose up to organize those left in the wake of a ruined world and created a new order? One where the skies and earth are regulated so that bad weather and catastrophe is nonexistent? Where there is no such thing as disorder?

This is the world the author creates for Honor Greenspoon- ten years old when the book starts, fourteen when it ends. We don't know the precise year Honor occupies, it could be anywhere from 2050 to 4000. But the continents have practically dissolved because of a worldwide flood- the inhabitable spaces left are patches of land that stood the storm and flood tests. They're now called islands. The grandmother-lady, who everyone calls Earth Mother, keeps the islands, and everything else, numbered.

But like any paradise of fiction, all is not what it seems. Underneath the Earth Mother's rules and climate regulations is a sinister plan, which Honor, to her horror, realizes can mean the end of her life as she knows it.

The author has mastered most of the elements of story they teach you in creative writing classes: description, plot, pace, etc. Character...not as much. I found that Honor's parents and friends were a little wispy for me. Still, for anyone wanting to write, this book can provide a great model on how to write a well-crafted, thoughtful, page-turner.

Of course, I wondered if the new world was predominantly white- the only reference made to the existence of people of color were some 'tanned girls with smooth black hair.' I don't think this was intentional- I don't know the author's background, but I think the general tendency with writers is to reflect the backgrounds they know in their writing. And if most writers grow up around and befriend only people of their own races, well, there you go. But to get back to the story...

I think Goodman was probably influenced by Brave New World and 1984- in a lot of ways, it seems as if she decided to just merge those two plots. In addition to deriving from Twilight Zone and sci-fi movies. For an adult reader, this might take down its originality grade a notch, but of course a child reader won't care about such things. The best thing is, the book will make the reader, regardless of age, think about larger issues like environmental hazards, authority, politics, etc. And that's always a feat in itself.
Profile Image for randy.
56 reviews14 followers
November 22, 2012
This started off quite promising, but ended with far more sputter than luster.
When I noticed I was 3/4ths of the way done, I had no idea how this was going to be wrapped up. I really should not have worried, as it simply was not. It ended on essentially a cliffhanger, but unlike nearly every other YA book needing to be a trilogy, Goodman writes at the end, in an author's notes section that she likes ambiguity, ending with more questions than answers. To this I say "hmmm" and "phfft".
To me this is easily a part one of a much greater story, but for whatever reason Goodman leaves it up to you. (Did she only get a one book deal? Was she worried that it would not be successful and was hedging her bets? Does she just like to taunt her readers?) I found this as lazy as her 'deus ex machina' style reveal of the, well for lack of a better word, rebel leader. I might nor have minded it so much if things did not seem so rushed at the end, as it made her writing fall apart. What was once crisp, clear, effective prose, becomes fragmented and spotty.
Like many other YA novels, this is a story of oppression and how a young adult figures out how to overcome it, well at least it trends that way, with the lack of an ending, you are not quite sure if she did overcome it. And that is the main problem. To her credit, Goodman creates a compelling world on a drowned earth with only a few island land masses left. And I initially fell into reading this quite swiftly. That she opted to sandbag her story by stopping it rather than ending it really interfered with that enjoyment.
Profile Image for Becky.
5,418 reviews122 followers
September 15, 2008
Goodman, Allegra. 2008. The Other Side of the Island.

First paragraph chapter one: All this happened many years ago, before the streets were air-conditioned. Children played outside then, and in many places the sky was naturally blue. A girl moved to a town house in the Colonies on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea.

Back cover: About this island, Honor knows this much is true: Enclosure means safe and secure. Different is dangerous. Disappear means no one here. And Earth Mother is always watching.

Jacket flap: In the eighteenth glorious year of Enclosure, long after The Flood, a young girl named Honor moves with her parents to Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. Life on the tropical island is peaceful--there is no sadness and no visible violence in this world. Earth Mother and her Corporation have created New Weather. Sky color is regulated and it almost never rains. Every family fits into its rightful, orderly, and predictable place...
Except Honor's. Her family does not follow the rules. They ignore curfew, sing songs, and do not pray to Earth Mother. Honor doesn't fit in with the other children at the Old Colony School. Then she meets Helix, a boy who slowly helps her uncover a terrible secret about the Island: Sooner or later, those who do not fit disappear, and don't ever come back.

The Other Side of The Island is dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction. At some point in the future, Earth is devastated by a terrible, tremendous Flood. An event that wipes out 90% of human life. The survivors band together--and Earth Mother along with seven council members who become the Corporation--seek to restore Earth and protect humanity forever and ever. The enclosure. Wanting to "protect" humanity by enclosing the islands--creating ceilings for Earth Mother's colonies. This is the basic premise for the novel.

The novel is interesting. It did hold my attention throughout. While I felt it was perhaps a bit more premise-driven than character-driven, a handful of characters are fully developed. I've read reviews that mention they (as readers) had no attachment to the characters, to Honor and her family, but I can't say that I agree with them. At least not completely. While Honor isn't perhaps as compelling a narrator as Jonas is from The Giver or Lina and Doon from The City of Ember, her story has its moments. And judging it just on the 2008 competition, I would say it's more than able to hold its own. (I've read The Resistance (sequel to The Declaration), The Inferior, Gem X, Shift, In the Company of Whispers, Neptune's Children, Fearless, and The Sky Inside. And I've also read The Diamond of Darkhold, the fourth in the Ember series.)

The book is built around a few too many coincidences for me. Slight spoiler: (The mother just *happens* to teach her daughter to count in base two so that four or five years later when the mother is captured, she can--while supposedly in a semi-permanent drug-induced trance--communicate a secret message to her daughter while decorating a cake. The daughter just happened to be there on a field trip to the bakery when she notices that one of the workers is in fact her *disappeared* mother.) End of spoiler. But when it comes down to it, you can let those things bug you to the point where they drive you crazy, or you can get over it and try to enjoy it for what it is.

One of the more interesting aspects of the novel was how it transformed texts to match this new society's needs. The Lord's Prayer, for example, became the Corporate Creed:

Our Councilors who are seven. Corporation is your name. Your plan to come, Enclosure done--on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And correct all our trespasses. As you correct those who trespass against us. And lead us not into Inaccuracy, but deliver us from lies. For ours is the planet and the power and the glory. Amen.

Reading is subjective. And some books it takes time to really evaluate. For example, a book can leave you with an impression--a genuine impression, a strong one--yet sometimes a few weeks or a few months later, you could have forgotten all about it. Or your impression has weakened or lessened. It doesn't stay with you like you thought it might. And with dystopias, it is often the lasting impression that matters. I can read a dozen dystopias a year...but when it comes down to it...The Giver is the only one that is able to hold onto the top spot year after year after year. It's that rare and spectacular book that from the moment it was published became a classic. It's too soon for me to know if Honor's story will "stick" with me now that I've finished the book.

I would certainly recommend the book to those readers (like me) who can't get enough of either dystopian and/or post-apocalyptic fiction. The book isn't perfect, isn't even practically perfect, but I found it entertaining and interesting. And I think it was worth my time.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Profile Image for Sarah.
83 reviews3 followers
July 20, 2015
I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. The plot was really good but the character development just wasn’t there. It felt like all of the characters were the same person with different names and there was no character growth. Honor as a 10-year-old was the same as Honor as a 14-year-old.

One aspect of the book that I did find really interesting was the conundrum that Honor’s parents were in. They, being revolutionaries, were having difficulty coming to terms with letting their children be conditioned by the schoolteachers. They did little things to encourage freethinking, like singing old songs and reminding them about weather, but for the most part it didn’t work on Honor. Honor was upset with her parents’ rebellious ways and just wanted to fit in with everybody else, she even changes her name to one with a “real” H.

I found myself thinking throughout most of the book that the author should have told Honor’s parents’ side of the story. They were the ones sneaking out at night planning to destroy Enlcosure. I also found myself really annoyed with Pamela and Will (the parents). They were really stupid and careless and seemed like they didn’t care about their children at all.

I LOVED that the society was thought of by a lot of people as a good thing and by a lot of people as a bad thing. This book addresses the safety vs. freedom debate that is very relevant today. A lot of people do prefer safety to freedom and I like that she points that out in the book. The world that she creates is very much conceivable and the issues that she addresses are very relevant. But when it comes to character building, she just drops the ball on that one.

I would recommend this book to anybody who is really bored, enjoys dystopian fiction, and has nothing else to read.
Profile Image for i..
331 reviews34 followers
March 13, 2013
After having read so many dystopian novels it is good to know that some books can still capture my attention ,this one did . Although the classic elements of a dystopian novel are present ,The Other Side of the Island combines them in a really interesting way.

The main character Honor a.k.a Heloise is both lovable and annoying .She doesn't question what she should and accepts what she shouldn't ,she makes wrong choices and has mixed feelings about her family.But she learns, she gradually sees things the way they are although Helix,his friend,has to open her eyes more than once.

One of the most appealing elements of dystopia in the novel is the way books are changed to suit the needs of the almighty Earth Mother ,pages are ripped and destroyed and whole passages are completely rewritten.It really makes you wonder about the books we are reading now,how our history was also written by the victors.

Another element that stands out is the presence of the orderlies ,people deprived of all identity,with no memories ,no personal thoughts and who look alike on the outside,like sheep.They somehow remind me of some people in our society who are so eager to fit in that lose themselves in the process although ,unlike the orderlies , they do it voluntarily.

The book is a page turner,I wanted to read it but I didn't want it to finish.It has an open ending but not so open that you cannot figure out what is going to happen.

The author ,who grew up in Honolulu ,has an interesting biography, I still haven't read any of her previous books but I may give them a try.

Profile Image for J.C..
Author 4 books73 followers
March 7, 2018
Wow! This book was amazing amazing amazing! I’ve read other books like this before—with other worlds and over governments—but this was by far the best one yet! I read it in almost one sitting. It was so captivating and interesting! Honor and her parents live on an island under the watch of Earth Mother and her many rules, but Honor’s family doesn’t follow most of those rules. They have an illegal second child, stay out past curfew, and even Honor’s name, in which the H is silent, doesn’t seem appropriate anymore. Honor and their second child—her brother—Quintilian, worry about their parents. Because in this world, if you don’t follow Earth Mother’s rules, you disappear. And don’t come back.
I love love loved this book. Great writing, great characters, and a real realistic feel! Even though Honor starts as a ten-year-old and finishes as a fourteen-year-old I’d reccommend this to all ages. I take back my five stars—it deserves at least ten!

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Profile Image for Zoya.
34 reviews
May 17, 2019
This is such A GREAT book I highly recommend it. Its kind of slow in the beginning but once you get to about half way of the book it gets really good
Profile Image for Jennifer Wardrip.
Author 5 books489 followers
Want to read
November 11, 2012
Reviewed by Tasha for TeensReadToo.com

It's the eighteenth year of Enclosure and everything on the islands in the Tranquil Sea have become regulated. Earth Mother and her Corporation, who have a vision for a world with only happiness, control everything from jobs to the weather to children's names - and expect everyone to conform to this view of normality, no matter what the consequence. On Island 365 lives a girl named Honor and her family, who don't really fit into this society.

While Honor desperately tries to fit in, her parents try even harder to not fit in. They break curfew, don't pray to Mother Earth, and biggest of all have a second child. When Honor meets Helix she soon finds out some dark secrets; those that don't conform soon disappear...forever.

Filled with fear that her parents might be taken, Honor tries to change even more, thinking that if she fits in, no attention will be brought to her parents. Will all her efforts be in vain? Will she and Helix uncover more secrets about the island?

From the very first paragraph I was drawn into the story and knew that it would be great. As it progressed, I was certainly not disappointed. Having only read a few post-apocalyptic or dystopian society books, I was a little unsure as to what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised with the ability of the book to hold my attention. I felt like most of the characters, especially Honor, were well-developed and real. Something that really stood out to me was Honor's ability to stay real, and very human-like, in a setting composed of conforming events and questions.

In this case it was easy to connect with Honor, because the author made the reader have some of the same questions as she did. Ms. Goodman also did a great job of creating suspense within the novel. There were many times where I was not able to pull myself away from the book at all. The questions that the book brings up keep you enthralled and wanting more. Overall, I was very much impressed with THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND, and am very much hoping that there will be a sequel.

Fans of THE CITY OF EMBER, THE UGLIES, and THE GIVER will really enjoy this book.

Profile Image for Alliyah.
23 reviews2 followers
November 30, 2018
Honor and her parents WIll and Pamela Greenspoon move from the northern islands to the Island where everything is how it should be and fits perfectly in its place. In the colonies she grows to believe in Earth Mother that is their protector and regulates their weather however her parents aren't the biggest believers in Earth Mother. At the school Honor goes to they separate you by the letter of you name like all the kids whose names start with an H they are all in the same class. When Honor got to school she was the outsider until she made friends with a boys by the name of Helix and so they become friends and so do their parents through a playdate. Helixś parents The Thompsons were just fine with how they lived until Will and Pamela showed them the other side of the Island and the bad side of everything and how the storm that comes every three years is important. Then Honor gets a little brother named Quintilian and a family of four was not allowed. And then she and Helix slowly uncover the dark secrets of their island. This book is one of my favorites because it had a good plot, characters and humour. I would recommend this book for people who like dystopian and mystery because it has so many plot twists and secrets that get uncovered.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Angela.
160 reviews10 followers
December 31, 2008
The alt-text for two stars here on Goodreads says that a ranking of two stars means "it was ok," and that sums up my feelings about The Other Side of the Island. It's certainly not a bad book, not even a bad contribution to environmental-disaster-dystopian fiction for young adults, but "okay" is about the most enthusiasm I can muster, considering the questions I was left with and overall lack of excitement throughout the book.

There are some good subtle touches in the book - I like how references to the censored Wizard of Oz were slipped in before the extent of the censorship was fully explained (right when I was ready to get very angry at the author for mixing up a basic but fundamental difference between the book and the film). And it was definitely interesting to see a book where it's the child who wants to conform while the parents are trying to subvert the government, while most YA books feature the opposite.

More of my thoughts here
Profile Image for Karin.
Author 15 books237 followers
September 6, 2008
After the floods, Earth Mother created sheltered environments on the islands that remained. Honor’s family is relocated to Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. The island has been enclosed with a barrier that is supposed to protect against wind and rain. The light is placed in the sky by a projector - a different color to represent every hour.

Honor and her family don’t fit in. Her parents stay out past curfew, they don’t teach her things other people on Island 365 know - they didn’t even name her right.

Eventually Honor meets Helix, a kind boy her age. After their parents disappear, they begin to realize that Island 365 has a terrible secret and together they begin the process of uncovering the truth.

Allegra Goodman has created an interesting addition to the post apocalyptic genre. You’ll be hoping for a sequel as soon as you get to the end of THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND.
Profile Image for Lara.
4,154 reviews340 followers
May 6, 2009
Well. I guess I wish Goodman had put a little more time into this book. It's a great premise, and could have been a great story, but it ended up seeming too half-baked. The characters weren't particularly likeable or believable, and a lot of their actions didn't really make sense to me. Also, a lot of the writing seemed...annoyingly dumbed down. I just think it could have been a whole lot better.
Profile Image for clara.
23 reviews25 followers
February 13, 2017
This book was actually way better than I thought it would be. The writing and story captured my attention until the end, and all I wanted was to learn what happened at the end.
Profile Image for Ashe.
2 reviews
October 13, 2022
I read “The Other Side of the Island” by Allegra Goodman. This is a dystopian, science fiction novel. The story takes place on Earth, generations into the future. The world is ruled by a government called the Corporation, led by a woman (acts like a tyrant, but the book never calls her that) that Earth’s inhabitants call Earth Mother. Earth has been destroyed at the time of this book, so the remaining denizens are separated into islands that still stand.
Earth Mother and her Corporation have created a new weather system called “New Weather.” The Earth was destroyed by the unpredictable weather before, so now, the Corporation controls all weather, sky appearances, tides, about anything in the natural world, even the plants are carefully arranged in the “habitable” islands.
The Corporation has strict rules that everyone must follow; You need to have a name beginning with a certain letter depending on your age, there cannot be more than one child per family, you cannot draw, you cannot play or listen to music, the list goes on.
Our main character is Honor, and she and her family have just transferred to Island 365 at the beginning of the story. She already does not fit in because her name has a silent “H,” she lives on a less fortunate side of town, and because her parents are careless about the rules of the Corporation.
The story follows Honor and her family and how they live in such a restrained world. It focuses on her challenges with fitting in and doing what is right.
This book is written in the third person omniscient point of view. It displays a very suspenseful and serious tone. It only focuses on Honor, never making another character take the stage. The writing style was nice, it was well put together, the author using a lot of figurative language, especially imagery. It was easy to follow, but still a trip to read.
I really liked the author’s writing style and tone. I enjoyed how the story was put together; flowing together nicely, but with good twists to interrupt at the right times. Personally, I did not like the ending. I do not believe it did the rest of the story justice, and the book could’ve either gone on or not ended in such an abrupt manner.
The characters that struck me most were not the most mentioned, but instead Honor’s parents. Her parents are very nurturing and patient with Honor, and they are delightfully childish in that they let their cares go even in a restricted environment like the island. It is palpable that they care deeply about each other, and they treat each other not just as the parents of each other’s kids, but still as lovers.
I do not think I’ll forget this book as it inspired me for some of my own stories. I would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a bit of a quicker read, but equally as fulfilling.
12 reviews
February 11, 2020
After reading the book, “The Other Side of the Island”, I came to the conclusion that the book was very complicated to read, it was an okay book to read, but I would not read it again. The story was all over the place, I couldn’t tell what the author was trying to portray in the book. The setting was easy to figure out because it was just on the island 365, where Honor was in search of her missing mother. I also felt like the characters were all of the place. Honor, the main character, didn’t seem to fit in the book like she was too much of a brat. This book brought anger to me because of Honor’s parents. Her parents let her do whatever she desired, her parents weren’t in control over her, basically putting her life up for danger. The ending of the book was also horrible because it was left as to where the conflict was building up to. The theme of this book is to find freedom because they are in an enclosed place.
At some point in the future, Earth is devastated by a terrible, huge Flood. An event that wipes out 90% of human life. The survivors’ band together and Earth Mother along with seven council members who become the Corporation seeks to restore Earth and protect humanity forever and ever. Wanting to "protect" humanity by enclosing the islands, creating ceilings for Earth Mother's colonies. Meaning the weather is controlled there. When new people come in from the North, the corporation assigns them to islands. Honor and her family have been located to island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. Honor likes blending in with society. She studies hard and gives the Corporation all the answers. She just wants to have friends and fit in, anyone who doesn’t conform disappears. Her parents, however, don’t like conformity. When her younger brother is born, he’s named Quintilian, which is against the rules for that year. They stay out after curfew, they don’t pray to mother nature, and sing songs. The family does not make friends with any families there, mostly because they don’t fit in. Then, one day Honor meets Helix. They get along really well, and their families hang out more and more often. Then, one day Honor’s and Helix’s parents disappear and the kids get thrown into an orphanage, and while they were there, they see an orderly that looks just like Honor’s mother. That is when they were seeking to find their parents, and luckily Honor found her family, so does Helix. Honor and her family plot an escape attempt. Her parents live as orderlies now (adults forced into obedience by these drugs) but they’re aware enough to help her make a plan. Honor then escaped one night into the forest and stumbles across the forest outside of permitted grounds. She sees how beautiful the world is outside of the Corporation, and she knows she should fight for freedom. The family and the Forecasters use the changing colors of the real sky to communicate to each other within the forest. They all find each other again and wait for the sky to change colors for the final time. When it does, it signals the start of a great war between Forecasters and the Corporate and the author leaves the ending otherwise unresolved.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
1 review
January 24, 2020
The Other Side of the Island starts of with ten year old Honor moving to Island 365. She first starts to notice the island is very different from her old home in the Polar Seas, for one thing it is always hot due to the Enclosure, and New Weather being issued by Earth Mother, The main leader of the island. Honors family is very different from the other families on the island, they wear brightly colored clothing that makes them stand out among all the dull colors, and the, and the most striking difference of all is, they have a second child. Honors family is the only family with a second child, and it is very unusual to the other families on the island to have more than one child, and it brings unwanted attention to honors family.

After living on the island for two years, honor starts to notice some strange occurrences, like her sudden loss of memory of her life before she moved to the island. She also starts to ponder questions no one has ever thought to ask,like... Where do the orderlies (a maid type person, who has been brainwashed and reprogrammed to serve, but honor doesn't know that. ) on the island come from? After getting in trouble at school for lying, honors parents go missing, and she and her brother Quintilian are left as orphans. Honor and Quintilian start to look into their parents disappearance, and discover many things. The new questions Honor begins asking herself, lead her to run away in search of her parents. She finds her father, and he and Honor go on a mission to find honors mother. They eventually find her, but she has become and orderly. Honor, and her father return her mother's memories, and all is well.

I personally thought the book was very boring, and in some places it really confused me, but I did like some elements the book contained, like the mystery of how the orderlies on the island are there. I would recommend this book to a person who likes a little bit of mystery, without having the suspense. I really wanted to connect to Honor, but it was very hard to, because the author didn't give a lot of places or ways to feel empathy. Overall the book wasn't very descriptive, and I wasn't as connected to honor, as I would have liked.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
16 reviews1 follower
November 27, 2013
In my opinion the book was had a great story line and lesson about not giving into conformity. At the beginning of the book Honor is thrown into a new environment created by Earth Mother, called Enclosure. Enclosure was created to try and control not only the weather, but also to keep the people living inside Enclosure afraid of the natural world. Honor and her parents came from the world outside of Enclosure, and the more they stay in Enclosure, the islands, and in the world that Earth Mother created/fixed the more they forget about where they came from and what the real world looks like.
Right away Honor and her parents are easily different from the rest and although Honor has made a friend, Helix, it leads Honor to want to conform so that people at school, the government, and everyone else will treat her the same. Honor's parents soon have another kid, Quintillian, and Honor is now fixated on trying to conform just to be liked. Meanwhile her parents and Helix's parents are beginning to break more and more laws. It leads to where Helix and Honor are no longer friends because Honor thinks its too dangerous what they're doing and Helix thinks that Honor is changing too much. Its not long before Helix's family disappears and he is thrown into the orphanage. It is Honor's fixation on perfection that eventually leads to her changing her name and having her parents Disappear. After their disappearance Honor tries to carry on with Quintillian but she eventually cracks and they are both thrown into the orphanage with Helix. From there Honor and Helix re-fix their friendship and realize that what Earth mother is doing isn't right.
They constantly look for their parents in the faces of the orderlies, mindless people who are almost like slaves. When Honor spots her mother, they begin a plan to rescue their parents from Barracks, the place orderlies are kept. During a storm, Honor escapes into the forest, the real forest, and realizes again what a beautiful and dangerous place the real world can be. She eventually finds her father, the old neighborhood watchman, and Helix's parents hiding out in the forest. they are part of the resistance and are also planning on rescuing Pamela, Honor's mother, from the Barracks so they can navigate their way to the weather station. There, they will signal the start of the rebellion. While rescuing her mother, Honor experiences the horrors of the barracks and how messed up Earth mother can be and how much lies people are believing.
After rescuing her mother, they now have the struggle of getting Pamela to wake up out of the drug induced haze and brain washing the government puts on all orderlies. It take the sting of ocean water to wake her up and after that they return Honor to the school where she will stay with Quintillion and Helix and wait for the sky to change colors, signaling the start of the rebellion. It is not long after Honor returns that she is summoned to the Librarian, who is also known as the one who "corrects" people. It is there that Honor finds out that the librarian, who is the Forecaster, is the opposite of Earth Mother. She's the one who recruited both Helix's parents, Honor's parents, and the neighborhood watch. When Honor, Helix, and Quinitliian meet up afterwords the sky begins to change irregular colors, the rebellion has begun.
This story teaches about being true to yourself, difference is okay, not to believe everything you are told,embrace your past/where you came from, and always look at things from more than the perspective you are told to look. This would be a good book for students anywhere from middle school to high school or anyone looking for a good book with adventure or something a little science fiction. I think it would be a good book for both girls and boys.I think it is a great book and I would definitely recommend to anyone of any age.
Profile Image for Rachel.
1,069 reviews46 followers
February 27, 2015
Admittedly, this was a strange book for me to read. I'm used to Allegra Goodman as an adult writer, heavy on character nuance and murkier with plot. For her YA dystopia, she had to turn this formula on it's head.

That's not entirely fair to her main character, Honor, who, unlike most contemporary heroines, doesn't have to break away from her parents to be rebellious, but rather to be normal. Through Honor, we see the allure of fitting into society in order to avoid ostracizarion, a paramount for dystopian fiction and present day grammar school. I also like how Goodman played with the idea of memory and control--one of the many similarities to "The Giver," but in Goodman's world, Honor had some past memories that flitted in and out in subtle ways, with hints and ultimately a revelation about how this society, or corporation, I should say, was eradicating them, and what that meant to their larger agenda,

In a way, this dystopia reads about what would happen if extremist environmentalists took over the world after catastrophe. I really loved Goodman's conceits about altering stories with dangerous weather, or "ceiling"/sealing the islands in protective domes. The "forecaster" became a code word for an antagonistic prophet; the corporation that now ruled the remains of Earth was headed up by the "Earth Mother." But this person, as illustrated by the imagery of a recycling school marm, may not have referred to an actual person, but rather the personified ideal of the corporation, a tangible deity for the people to follow. I Am using this word specifically, because at the beginning of the novel, certain pledges (another smart conceit by Goodman-- altering the words of modern day songs and pledges to fit the corporation,) were referred to as a religion.

I might be a little biased on this one, seeing as Goodman is a Jewish writer who touches on many Jewish themes in her adult work, but I saw illusions to another religion here, too. On the macro, metaphorical level, most Jews living in diaspora would understand the struggle between culturaism and assimilation. On a darker note, there are strands of Judaism that fervently adhere to enforcing community norms at the expense of indiviualistic thought. But even on a specific level I thought I found little niggles...could "Greenspoon" be a stand in for "Greenstein"? Were the candlesticks that Will and Pamela unpacked used for shabbos by distant relatives? And of course there is the issue of thee orderlies, an underling class of those who have had their humanity stripped away, being tattooed with identity numbers.

Ultimately there was little to no character development that didn't serve the plot, which was disappointing. And as the New York Times Sunday Book Review pointed out, although Goodman gave a lot of examples of how current day society was destroyed and/or converted post-Flood, there's little insight into the past devastation of our apocalypse, and why those of us who survived might willingly give up personal control, and crave an all-encompassing corporation to look after our safety. By the time we get to Honor's story, the corporation is mostly built on lies and fear.

I have to give props to Goodman's scientific mind, as always, for all of her meteorology and nature details. Also I'm intrigued by the style of writing--an omniscient voice where the narrator occasionally adds an anectodte about how things are "now" vs at Honor's time. Most dystopian novels seem to be told in the present, as the revolution significantly alters the society, but perhaps Goodman is hinting, ironically, perhaps, for a post-Flood apocalypse story, that not everything about the world Honor lived in will be washed away.
28 reviews1 follower
May 15, 2015

In the eighteenth year after, long after the enormous flood that took place in the North, a young girl named Honor moved on Island 365 with her parents in the Tranquil Sea. After moving, Honor notices many obvious differences from living in the North, to living on the Island. Honor and her family are ranked in the lowest class of society and lives in a broken down house near the fearful shore of the Tranquil Sea. All of the people of the Island worshiped Earth Mother as their leader. Earth Mother controlled each and every island. Orderlies, people that work around the island that are dressed in white, maintain the island for better enjoyment. Everyone on the island must be obedient to Earth Mother's’ rules otherwise the people who disobey them receive a strict punishment. Honor and her family don’t fit in with everyone else because they are a different type of family. They don’t believe in Earth Mother because they came from the North, and they have seen the real physical features of Earth that no one on the island believes. Honor and her family made friends with another family in the upper class that acts just like them. The boys’ name that Honor makes friends with is Helix. The two families became great friends until one day, Honor’s and Helix’s parents disappear. Honor and Helix both got sent to and orphanage. After many weeks of working in the orphanage, Honor notices an orderly that looks just like her mother. From there on, Helix and Honor made a plan to find both of their parents on the other side of the island.

In this book, Honor is the main character. Honor is very intelligent and smart. Her family did not fit in with the rest of the people, and she was alright with that. Honor hated living on the island and missed the north tremendously. After the disappearance of her parents, Honor was brave enough to make a living without them and tried to keep the government away from knowing. Her parents, Pam and Will, were also very rebellious and brave. They had no intention to follow the rules of the island due to their beliefs. I think Honor and her family are extra courageous than the rest. They work together very well as a family.

I think the audience for this book should be read by young adults from fifteen and up. Anyone under fifteen would have a difficult time understanding the plot. Any gender is recommended for this book. People that have a strong interest in adventure and mystery would love this book. This book is great for young adults and older.

I rate this book a four because I really was interested in the plot, but it was not the best book I have read. There were several moments in this book that were very interested and I wanted to know more. There were a lot of big moments in this book and it never got boring. Something was constantly happening. I also really liked the characters and their personalities. The characters make me wonder what it would be like to go through what they did. This book is definitely one of my favorites. I think everyone should read this book and experience the themes throughout the book.

9 reviews
March 24, 2015
The book The Other Side of the Island is by far my favorite book. It reminds of the Hunger Games a little bit because it takes place after the government crumbles ,and they have a new government created. The new government was created after The Flood. Their government leader is called Earth Mother, and she is worshiped by everyone every day. When new people come in from the North, she assigns them to islands. The main character, Honor, and her family have been assigned to island 365 in the Tranquil Sea, where the sky color is regulated by Earth Mother, and it almost never rains. Life there is peaceful and kept peaceful by orderlies,which are big bald people dressed in white. There, at island 365, everyone fits into their predictable and rightful place, and listen to all the rules set up by Earth Mother and her corporation, except for Honor’s. They stay out after curfew, sing songs, and do not pray to Earth Mother. They do not make friends with any families there, mostly because they don’t fit in. Then, one day Honor meets Helix; they get along really well, and their families hang out more and more often. Then, one day Honor’s and Helix’s parents disappear. The kids get thrown into an orphanage, and while they were there, they see an orderly that looks just like Honor’s mother. That day, they tried to find their parents disguised as orderlies. They only saw Honor’s mother, so they devised a plan to find where their parents were.

Honor is a very bright, courageous, and brave little girl. She didn't need to fit in, because she didn't like the way everyone was acting. She didn't like life at Island 365. I definitely agree with her and her family’s decision to not fit in, and to be different. Honor was also very brave to try to live on without her parents, and without the government knowing. She was very courageous when she decided to go off into the woods to try and find her parents after they disappeared. I wish I had her bravery, will, and courage. She is a great fictional role model.

I think the audience for this book ranges from 14 and up because you have to be at a certain level of reading, and I think adults would also like this book. Both genders could read this book, too. It is probably a book more for girls because the main character is a girl, and they can relate to her.

I rated this book a five out of five stars because I thought it was a really good book. It kept me entertained the whole time throughout the entire book, and I could not put it down. I hope everyone else likes it as much as I did.
Profile Image for Shaya.
309 reviews
October 3, 2009
The Other Side of the Island is reasonably intersting but lacking a little in character development and surprises in the plot. It has some ideas to reflect on about what our values and what we see as problems in the world.

One thing that distinguishes The Other Side of the Island from other dystopian stories is that this is clearly set after the World suffers some of the effects of global warming. This aspect makes the story seem a bit more relevant and possible. Another distinguishing aspect is that words that are common in our world are used with a different shade of meaning. The controlling leader of the Colonies uses words like Accept, Mother Earth, Safe and Secure as descriptors of Her perfect society. Words like Rejector, Enemy of Nature, Hijacker, Trespasser, etc. are used to describe those against the controlling Corporation. But these were the "good guys" in the story. I thought it was interesting to think about what the words really mean and how they can be represent positive and negative ideas depending on who is using them and how.

And I did like the message that our human wish for safety can harm us.

I liked the development of the main character, Honor. She starts out willing to dissent like her parents do but then gets squashed into wanting to conform because there is so much pressure to. I never felt like I got to know any of the characters inside and out. They did change but they were a little too cardboard for my taste. The third person narration contributed to that.

The plot was pretty predictable. It fit the template of dystopian novels.

It felt a lot like The Giver by Lois Lowry. And I've also read The Silenced by James DeVita in the same genre. Of the three The Giver is the best written. I thought The Silenced was very haunting. I still think of certain images from it today, a year after I read it. The Other Side of the Island has a world where it's easy to see how we got from where we are to there. But I'd recommend the other two over this book.

Profile Image for P.M..
1,271 reviews
December 13, 2010
Ten year old Honor and her mother and father have just been forcibly relocated to an island in the Tranquil Sea from their home in the Northern Islands. When Honor is being interviewed for her place in school, the headmistress stresses that her name is not Acceptable since the H is silent. Honor struggles to fit in while her parents secretly join the Forecasters, a group of rebels who want to displace Earth Mother who is bent on Enclosure - ceiling the islands against the onslaught of Weather. When Honor's parents have a second child and choose to keep him, Honor feels that she must take action to help the family become part of society. Her first step is to take the name Heloise, which has a pronounced H. Unfortunately, this is what spurs the authorities to Disappear the parents. Now Honor and her brother Quintilion are orphans and must live in the Boarding Home. Her one friend Helix lets her in on a secret - the Orderlies, vapid, staring creatures who do all the work are Disappeared parents. Together Honor and Helix embark on a plan to find their parents and escape Earth Mother's control. This is another dystopian book that I hoped to enjoy more than I did. I did like the description of the society created by Earth Mother but Honor was not a sympathetic character and was more of a brat. I also wanted to know how the tree octopus Octavio fit into the story. He was there and gone too fast. The author never really explained his connection to Honor. It does sound like a sequel could come along.
Profile Image for Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews).
601 reviews204 followers
December 9, 2010
Well, we’ve finally gone and pissed off Mother Earth. We finally mucked up the planet enough and The Flood was sent to put us in our place. Never fear, because the Corporation and the Earth Mother are here to save the day! “The Other Side of the Island” by Allegra Goodman takes place in the eighteenth year of Enclosure (where it’s always sunny and green under the dome), long after Mother Earth dumped on us in the form of the Flood. This is Honor’s story (silent H, which is a no-no, since she was born in an H year, and, you know, we should be able to hear that H). Her name alone already gives you a good idea of Honor’s parents and their subversive ways. I’m not going to dance around it; this book is depressing. Allegra’s family is forced to move to Island 365 from the North (a wild place and full of Partisans-dissenters) by the Corporation, and thus begins the gradual muting of her world’s colors and the end of her family’s personal freedom. I love Ms. Goodman’s use of dark humor here, especially when reading excerpts from their “educational” pamphlets. It’s a life full of structure, propaganda, and everything and everyone in its place, and the story is told in a fairly straightforward, uncomplicated manner, and it really works here. The Corporation reminds me of my Homeowner’s Association except I haven’t known them to “disappear” anyone’s parents for not keeping the weeds out of the tree well. At least not yet.
Profile Image for Abby.
601 reviews84 followers
March 30, 2009
3.5 stars. A satisfying, well-written addition to the ever-expanding category of YA dystopian fiction with an environmental twist. In this story, the earth's continents have been reduced to islands by the catastrophic effects of global warming, and Big Brother = Earth Mother, the seemingly benevolent leader who rules the "safe" and "secure" Colonies, where she's trying to establish New Weather and a new, authoritarian society "for the good of the planet." Ten-year-old Honor has recently moved to the Colonies from the Northern Islands, with her parents, Will and Pamela, who are less than model citizens in the eyes of Earth Mother and her minions. Desperate to fit in, Honor makes a seemingly innocent choice that has severe consequences for her family -- and leads her to discover what's hidden on the other side of the island.

Goodman captures perfectly the dismay that a child craving security and stability feels when her parents do not follow community norms and her sense of being an outsider is amplified -- so even though some readers may be frustrated by some of Honor's actions, she remains a sympathetic character. I'm only giving it 3.5 stars though because it's not really dark enough for a dystopian novel in my opinion -- even a teen dystopian novel. But it does have a scary librarian so it gets points for that.
Profile Image for Krystle.
913 reviews335 followers
May 5, 2010
The Other Side of the Island gives up a stark picture of the future when evolving science and paranoia meld together to create a society ruled under utmost Totalitarianism.

Wow, some of the stuff the author thought up in here was pretty wicked. The concept of this book is fantastic and thoroughly developed. Some of the plot twists were predictable and others weren’t. The characters, especially Honor, were realistic with plenty of room for growth, and had their own vices and flaws.

The pacing of the book was slow but when the real escape/break the mold/rescue plot rush to the climax appeared at the halfway point I couldn’t put it down. If there was one thing that dragged this down was the writing. It felt stiff, choppy, and utilized a lot of repetition, and short sentences. Not my type of style.

I liked how the story grew with the character and the different phases of life she went through. The friendships between her and Helix was cute although later on I thought it was a bit abrupt that she got back into his friendly graces so soon.

I’m not sure about the ending though. It’s either you hate it and think it was a deliberately done cop out, or fantastic because of the leeway it gives you to think up your own ending. Whatever the case is, I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it someone who wants some lighter dystopian fiction.
Profile Image for Katie.
64 reviews1 follower
January 10, 2012
Global warming has caused the polar ice caps to melt and sea levels to rise; consequently, much of the Earth’s land has disappeared, leaving only high-lying islands. A corporation run by a woman known as Earth Mother now rules all of the islands. Honor and her family have moved to Island 365, and from the outset it looks like they’ll have a hard time fitting in. First of all, Honor’s name is all wrong. Everyone born in her year has a name that begins with H, but Honor’s name has a silent H and is therefore all wrong. Honor’s family also sings songs (forbidden), stays out past curfew (a serious offense), and worst of all, has a second child. Honor grows more and more embarrassed by her family’s disrespect of the rules, but her embarrassment turns to concern when she finds out what happens to people who do not fit in. [return][return]This book is similar to other futuristic children’s books, like the City of Ember books and the Shadow Children series. If you liked those books then you’ll probably like this one; however, it’s not a standout. I liked how some of Earth Mother’s rules were similar to the rules of the former Chinese ruler Mao Zedong, like how all people had to hang a picture of her in their house and have a book of her sayings. It is truly frightening how Earth Mother and the people who work for her are able to control the population.
Profile Image for Karen Ball.
484 reviews7 followers
June 5, 2011
Another dystopia! This one reminds me a lot of The Giver, but with a clearer setting, more information about how this place has come to be, and actually more realistic options for the people in the story. Honor and her parents have been reassigned to live on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. Her parents don't quite fit in, and neither does she in this extremely regulated place. In their first apartment, the Neighborhood Watch arrives to tell them that they are not allowed to sing Honor to sleep to make her feel better in this new place. Although the island is peaceful, it is difficult following the rules and being obedient to Earth Mother, the corporation that now runs the planet and regulates all life and events, including the weather. Honor meets Helix, who also is interested in more than what the people on the island are being offered. Slowly, Honor and Helix discover a horrible truth about life on the Island: one way or another, people who are unpredictable or different vanish, and they don't ever come back. This one is a good companion novel for The Giver in 6th grade, but also will work well with the Holocaust curriculum in 8th grade (the idea of controlled society, getting rid of those who are different, propaganda, etc). 6th grade and up.
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