1/08/2009

The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman

The Other Side of the Island, by Allegra Goodman, is the story of a girl by the name of Honor. But her name is an anomaly, you see. Though she was born in the year H and Honor is a perfectly approved government name, the H is silent, so it sticks out. Her school isn’t worried, however. They know they’ll train her to change it, because what fun is life if you’re different than everybody else?

But Honor’s parents seem to think her name is okay. They dance and sing and laugh and read and draw, push limits, go on adventures, take midnight strolls to the forbidden ocean, betting on dark and serendipity. They even go so far as to have a second child, something rare and frowned upon. No, they seem to be just fine with Honor’s name.

Honor, herself, however, is a different story. After her family was relocated to one of Earth Mother’s controlled islands, she has been in a class with Helixes, Henriettas, Harrys and Harmonies. She’s not sure how she feels. On one hand, she lives for the forbidden excitements she and her family enjoy, but at the same time, she’s frustrated. Because really—why can’t her parents just obey Earth Mother and the Government? Why can’t they just be like everyone else? The last thing Honor would ever want would be to lose her parents, and she knows that if you’re too different, you might just disappear.

Though the book was rather predictable in places, The Other Side of the Island was surprisingly good. It was suspenseful with some nicely original aspects. The characters were relatable, and there were some quite cool notions about weather and religion. “Earth Mother” combined God and Mother Nature, and the religion was centered around her. Scientists had found a way to control the weather, so that Unpredictability could be avoided whenever possible.

I liked this book a lot, it was a pretty quick read—not too hard, along the same lines as a lot of other science fiction/distopia sort of novels, but with some parts that were truly new and quite interesting.

I would give it four out of five ridiculously evil and futuristic daggers! Twas a Very Good book, edging on great.



Bowing down to Earth Mother,

Briar

P.S – How coincidental that my name works! Awesome!

10 comments:

Ink Mage said...

Hmm, sounds interesting. I think yours is the first review I've read of this!

Gabriel Gethin said...

This book sounds intriguing. Are these controlled islands supposed to be utopias too? I get a strange utopian vibe from the summary of the book. Am I on to something or just a little more than less than insane?

Briar K. said...

Well, though I have no doubt that you're a a little more than less than insane, Gabriel ( :) ), yes, the book is about a utopian society. Or rather, distopian. Perhaps I chould have made that clearer.

Em said...

I read this for the Cybils and found it to be a little scary...distopian novels always give me the chills. :)

Gabriel Gethin said...

The thing that I find amusing about utopian and distopian novels is that they are one and the same. Since humans are imperfect, no utopian societies can exist. All novels that I have ever read about utopias end up turning into distopias.

Briar K. said...

True Gabriel-- but who knows? It would be no fun to write a novel about a perfect society, because for it to be perfect there would be no problems, and then the book would be boring.

However, I'd have to agree with you. A utopia could never happen because humans are imperfect, but maybe these distopia novels show us different ways of exploiting flaws, in the endless journey to make us MORE perfect....

well, I tried.

Gabriel Gethin said...

You're right. A book about a perfect society wouldn't be a book at all! Part of a book is the conflict. Without conflict, there are no protagonists or antagonists. There is no rising action, no climax, no resolution if there is no conflict. Therefore, it is impossible for us to write a book about a utopian society alone. We can write books about utopias that turn bad, but not about true utopias.

Briar K. said...

Well, yes. the very nature of utopias makes it so we have nothing to write about WHich makes me question if a perfect world would be very fun to live in at all. Yes you'd be happy all the time, but if you're happy ALL the time, with no bad times to compare it to, are you really happy? Is happy the physical and emotion feeling of feeling good, or is it the difference between the low times? And if we lived in a utopian society, there could be no books about it, so there'd be no books....

Gabriel Gethin said...

Have you ever read the Giver? In that book, the author questions whether or not happiness can be found in a utopian society. In the utopian society of the Giver, there is no sadness, no pain, no suffering, but there is also no happiness. The main message of the book is that without evil, there is no good, without hate, there is no love, without sadness, there is no happiness, and so on. It doesn't apply only to happiness and sadness, it applies to all opposites. Happiness is only relative. You cannot feel happiness without also feeling sadness at another time, otherwise there would be no way for us to distinguish between the two.

KATE COOMBS said...

Thanks for the review! Actually, I came in here to tell you that I'm bestowing a Butterfly Award on your site. Naturally, I felt compelled to make up my own subcategories--yours won for Best Masthead Art.