This book is definitely one of those love it or loathe it novels. You’ll either love it – for the clever plotting and gradual reveal of what has happened to its family, or loathe it primarily because many chapters are written in eight year old Finn’s phonetic speaking voice, where things like changing an ‘a’ for a ‘u’ in ‘can’t’ may upset, as will the sexual awakening of young teenager Alice – we hear her voice directly in the second half.
I fall into the first camp – I loved it, even more so once I was used to Finn’s voice which does take a few chapters. Right from the beginning you want to find out what happened to this family, God-fearing Pa, Finn, Alice and little sister Daisy – and what became of their mother?
Pa tells of a great flood, how he built an ark and that they are the only survivors, lucky to end up on a verdant and fertile island paradise with plenty of wildlife. Their desert island books are the Bible, Shakespeare and Grimm’s fairy tales, Alice is starting to get interested in Romeo and Juliet …. a portent of problems to come when this teenager begins to question their situation as her pre-flood memories are awakened. Finn however is having the adventure of a lifetime, until his cat Snowy dies which makes him very sad. Daisy, we never hear directly from but then she’s only three and knows no other life.
Then one day a stranger arrives and the family are no-longer alone. Will is not whom he seems, but this doesn’t stop Alice falling for him and naturally this plunges the family into conflict. Revelations, twists and turns come thick and fast as the novel hurtles towards its climax.
To explain any more would give too much away, so I will leave you to make up your own minds. If you can cope with the challenging language and themes there is much to get out of this novel.
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Source: Librarything Early Reviewiers. To explore on Amazon UK, please click below:
The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor, Faber paperback.