The Islands at the End of the World
In this fast-paced survival story set in Hawaii, electronics fail worldwide, the islands become completely isolated, and a strange starscape fills the sky. Leilani and her father embark on a nightmare odyssey from Oahu to their home on the Big Island. Leilani’s epilepsy holds a clue to the disaster, if only they can survive as the islands revert to earlier ways.
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.
A Kirkus Reviews “BEST TEEN BOOK OF 2014“!
A 2014 Junior Library Guild Selection
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Publishers Weekly (Starred review)
“Debut author Aslan shows off his promise as a writer, delivering a fresh, of-the-moment take on apocalyptic fiction. The ecology of Hawaii and its mythology glow vividly as Lei awakens to her special connection to the Emerald Orchid and its purpose. First in a planned two-book series, it’s an exceptional adventure and survival story that’s intimately tied to its setting.”
Kirkus Reviews (Starred review) [A KIRKUS BEST TEEN BOOK OF 2014]
“Hope for a promising epilepsy treatment brought Leilani, 16, and Mike, her ecologist father, to Honolulu; when a global catastrophe plunges the world’s most isolated metropolitan area into chaos, they’re desperate to return to family on the Big Island of Hawaii—it won’t be easy.Lei—half-Hawaiian, half-white—still feels like an outsider three years after moving from California to Hilo. Nevertheless, her island heritage speaks to her and could be the key to understanding the cataclysmic technological disruptions changing the world. Satellite-based GPS and other electronic communications systems fail, and only well-heeled tourists can buy their ways home. To combat mounting chaos, the military herds those at large, including Leilani and Mike, into internment camps. Leilani’s seizures carry voices to her, while an alarming discovery makes her quest to unravel their message and escape from the camp increasingly urgent. Seeking home drains their dwindling resources but strengthens their trust in each other. Flashes of kindness and empathy provide respite from the chaos and cruelty. Anchoring the story, the powerful bond between father and daughter reminds readers that love is as potent as fear and greed. Aslan’s debut honors Hawaii’s unique cultural strengths—family ties and love of home, amplified by geography and history—while remaining true to a genre that affirms the mysterious grandeur of the universe waiting to be discovered.A suspenseful and engaging series opener made all the more distinctive through its careful realization of setting. (Science fiction. 12 & up)”
School Library Journal (Starred review)
“Hawai’i is a vibrant, personified setting that is well crafted. The author includes numerous references to the language, ecosystem, and culture. Despite her love for her home, Lei feels like she does not belong, partly because she is half Hawaiian, but mostly because of the disease that prevents her from having a “normal” life. Nevertheless, she feels a connection to her ancestry and the old gods. Slowly, the protagonist comes to a revelation that allows her to accept her blossoming self. Aslan’s debut is a riveting tale of belonging, family, overcoming perceived limitations, and finding a home.—Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ontario, Canada”
“While in Honolulu with her father for a clinical trial related to her epilepsy, 16-year-old Leilani hopes to fit some surfing in between appointments. But when an enormous, green, cloudlike organism appears in the sky after a tsunami, unmitigated panic grips the world. Seemingly overnight, phones and computers no longer function, generators provide the only source of power, and the city is under martial law. Leilani and her father escape from a military-run camp and begin their treacherous journey home to their family in Hilo. This well-paced novel successfully provokes a palpable sense of urgency, and the mystery surrounding the nature of the “Emerald Orchid” and the hope that Leilani’s family will be reunited drive the narrative forward effectively. Aslan has developed his protagonist fully; Leilani is admirable yet flawed, and readers will connect with her struggle to fit in both as an ethnic minority in her community and as an epileptic. Teens should enjoy this utterly unique eco-thriller and eagerly await its sequel.”