- Island’s End
In spite of the title, Uido has no intention of letting her island haven come to anything resembling an end. She is its new spiritual leader, and her first instinct is to reject the strangers who come from the mainland (as well as their mysterious conveniences, such as matches), although she quickly sees that effective leadership comes through compromise, sacrifice, and an intentional folding in of the new with the best parts of the old. Unfortunately, the mainlanders seem mostly set on enlightening the backward islanders, and their approach vacillates between well-intentioned condescension and outright hostile takeover. A natural disaster, while upending life as all know it, is actually a small gift for Uido, buying the villagers some time to regain perspective and decide what they actually need from the rest of the world. It is clear that the author intended for this novel to reflect the experiences of actual isolated tribes, and a brief note mentions the Andaman Islands, hundreds of miles off India, as an inspiration point. Uido, all fire and passion and easy strength, is a strong, personable element on which to hang this novel, which is as much a political and social commentary as it is a middle-school adventure read. There is a careful and effective balance achieved, however, so that fans of survival novels, who will be enthralled with the constant dangers and gifts of island life, and informed readers curious to know more about how modern society would impact an isolated tribe will both feel they’ve found the right book.