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  • The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan
  • April Spisak
Aslan, Austin The Islands at the End of the World. Lamb, 2014 358p Library ed. ISBN 978-0-375-99145-5 $20.99 Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-385-74402-7 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-385-37421-7 $10.99     Ad Gr. 8-10

Leilani loves her Hawaiian life of surf and sand, but all that goes by the wayside when events overtake the world and begin to erode civilization. Electronics suddenly don’t work, human society deteriorates with shocking speed, and the rest of the world seems even worse off than Hawaii, where Leilani and her father are focused on trying to get back to the island where the rest of her family awaits. In the meantime, Leilani, who has epilepsy, is running low on her medication, and her seizures are rough, knocking her out for precious days that she and her dad need to pursue whatever unlikely travel options open up for them. There is a sweetness to the strong bond that father and daughter form; while they clearly loved each other before, there is nothing like fighting against the whole world as a united duo to get home to really cement a connection. Unfortunately, the alien invasion/nuclear meltdown/environmental catastrophe triple event is a lot of end of the world to unpack, especially as some of it is mixed up with religious/spiritual hints that Leilani’s epilepsy might help her be part of a global solution. Nevertheless, the Hawaiian setting is elegantly and lovingly developed—it is abundantly clear that Aslan has a deep respect for the cultural and geographical features of Hawaii—and there’s some ironic pleasure in viewing the end of the world from a seeming paradise. [End Page 143]