Michelle Tran's Reviews > The Island at the End of the World

The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor
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's review
Oct 18, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: fiction, dystopic
Read from October 18 to 19, 2011

** spoiler alert ** What attracted me to this book, admittedly, was the price at which I found it (and I guess the post-apocalyptic theme to this played a role in this as well). Now I know why it was in the bargain's bin.

The book centers around a mysterious, unnamed man who seems to talk and think in a "Biblical" way. He lives on this island with his children and is one of the ones "saved" from the flood that took away his wife. In fact, the world that he lives in resemble that of Noah. One day a man comes to the island and disrupts this "fantasy-Noah-ark" reality he's created for himself and his children.

The story switches tones between the characters, where the father speaks Biblically, and the younger son (age undetermined) lacks grammatical correctness and the older daughter speaks in Shakespeare (as the reader will later realize, she's keeps referencing "Romeo and Juliet"). I found this difficult to adjust to. For example, Finn would write the word "island" as "I-lan", which confuses the hell out of a speed/gist reader. And the older daughter's lack of quotation marks made is hard to differentiate who is speaking. And don't get me started on how many times Alice ends her sentences mid-way, as if it was somehow reflective of the "romance" of unfinished sentences. So the stylistic changes, although interesting as a novelty at first, made reading "The Island at the End of the World" more irritable than it should have been.

Plot-wise, the post-apocalyptic theme is definitely prominent in the story. However, you soon realize that the man posing as Noah isn't who he seems and the island itself is not the salvation that the man-posing-as-Noah and children has made themselves believe. But I felt that not enough was explained. In the end, secrets about Ben (the man-posing-as-Noah) gets revealed, but doesn't fully provide insight about his intentions. What exactly made him hate Christian? Is his anger justified? Without these answers, it was very difficult to sympathize with him or his children (one who hates him and the other who idolizes him). And what happened to Mary? Why didn't she come back for her children earlier if she's still alive? Is Ben still alive? What happened to CPS and why didn't Mary or Christian report Ben to them? How did the moat that Ben made really fill up? Was Ben an abusive father (which isn't quite clear, as he killed Finn's cat in the beginning (and eventually kills Alice + Will), but there are moments where he hides and suppresses his anger, which also points out that he has some rationality and compassion towards his children =.=). Although I generally like open-ended plots, the fact that Ben was so unpredictable, and his motives for the island was not really explained made it very frustrating to speculate on his past. There are just too many possibilities and none of them really convincing.

So all in all, this book was not very enjoyable. It was a quick subway read which, surprisingly, was easier to swallow than Good Omens but unfortunately, wasn't as intellectually satisfying.

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