Katie Reads: The Islands at the End of the World

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Sixteen-year-old Leilani loves surfing and her home in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. But she’s an outsider – half white, half Hawaiian, and an epileptic.

While Lei and her father are on a visit to Oahu, a global disaster strikes. Technology and power fail, Hawaii is cut off from the world, and the islands revert to traditional ways of survival. As Lei and her dad embark on a nightmarish journey across islands to reach home and family, she learns that her epilepsy and her deep connection to Hawaii could be keys to ending the crisis before it becomes worse than anyone can imagine.

A powerful story enriched by fascinating elements of Hawaiian ecology, culture, and warfare, this captivating and dramatic debut from Austin Aslan is the first of two novels. The author has a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

I’m such a sucker for survival stories. I stayed up late reading this one and then finished reading it in bed the next morning.

There aren’t that many stories I’ve seen that heavily feature a strong father-daughter relationship so I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. Lei and her father actively work together during the story, but it was nice to have a competent parental figure who took charge a lot of the time. Once in a while, they get snarky at each other, but for the most part Lei and her father have a positive bond and work together really well.

The book wove in a lot of Hawaiian legends and folklore, but never to the point of distraction. Additionally, there were also some themes of spirituality and how you maintain faith when God seems to have abandoned you. Though it came up, spirituality wasn’t the focus of the book, which was the right choice to make as it could easily have seemed too heavy handed.

Every time I read one of these kind of books I’m reminded how terrifyingly dependent we have gotten on technology. Luckily, unlike the time in high school when I read Susan Beth Pfeiffer’s Life As We Knew It, I didn’t finish this book and force my mom to go and buy lots of cans of soup in case the Apocalypse happened.

A keep you on the edge of your seat survival story.

Stay magical readers!

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