Ever since Honor moved to Island 365 with her parents from the wild Northern Islands, she’s been noticing that her parents don’t quite fit in. Island life is peaceful and orderly since Earth Mother enclosed what land was still inhabitable after catastrophic weather terrorized the Earth. But her parents don’t worship Earth Mother like everyone else does, and they don’t follow the rules. And that scares Honor, because she learns that those who are unpredictable disappear – and they don’t come back.
I really liked the premise of this dystopia because the societal ills stem not from your usual far right nightmares, but from a militant form of tree hugging. Not that I’m not all for preserving our environment, but this novel asks at what cost? And the answers are chilling.
Author Allegra Goodman spends a large part of the narrative on world creation and does it fantastically well. I loved how she took well known speeches from our world such as The Lord’s Prayer and The Pledge of Allegiance and twisted them into Earth Mother propaganda. Even classic literature like the Wizard of Oz has been edited to fit Earth Mother’s agenda of predictability. The resulting society is scary and powerful enough that its’ agents are pretty much everyone – individual villains are quite beside the point.
Against this background Honor is realistically conflicted – she wants badly to fit in and for her parents to fit in, but she doesn’t want them to be taken or harmed. When the inevitable happens though, Honor wakes from her Earth Mother induced coma and comes out kicking for an edge of your seat climax and resolution not to be missed.
The Other Side of the Island is out now. Thanks to JL for her extreme generosity!