Goodman, Allegra. The Other Side of the Island (2008). Razorbill. 272 Pages. $8.99
Honor and her parents have been reassigned to live on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. Life is peaceful there, the color of the sky is regulated by Earth Mother, a corporation that controls New Weather, and it almost never rains. Everyone fits into their rightful and predictable place. . . .
Except Honor. She doesn’t fit in, but then she meets Helix, a boy with a big heart and a keen sense for the world around them. Slowly, Honor and Helix begin to uncover a terrible truth about life on the Island: Sooner or later, those who are unpredictable disappear . . . and they don’t ever come back.
All this happened many years ago, before the streets were air-conditioned. Children played outside then, and in many places the sky was naturally blue. A girl moved to a town house in the Colonies on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea.
Honor annoyed me.
I just wanted to get that out there early, because it colors my entire opinion of the book. I’m so used to strong girls, but Honor isn’t really strong. She does what she thinks is right, and she gets points for that, but she makes several wrong choices.
Still, she lives in a society where everyone is meant to fit in, and her parents stubbornly refuse to. They want to be free, to experience a life where they are not fitting into the tightly constrained expectations of Island 365.
It is, interesting. But it irritated me so very much to view the story through Honor, and her stupid choices.
I think I found it as irritating as I did due to my own perspective on things like this. I have often gone against expectations and societal norms to do what I felt was right, even when that meant standing out. I tried hard to be who I wanted to be, and the fact that Honor fights so hard to fit in is the antithesis to my own world views.
I had issues, as well, with the family dynamic, and some stylistic choices as to what was shown and what was told. There were parts that I felt would really have been much stronger if they had been shown, and there were parts we could have been told that were shown instead. “Showing vs Telling” can really color your story, and I don’t think I agreed with all of the choices made by the author and her editors.
Still, it was an interesting book. It made me think, and I did read the whole thing. There were parts I enjoyed, but most of those came after Honor’s parents “disappeared.” It gets a decent score of 3 of 5.