The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor


“Its raining its poring
The neighbors ignoring
They laft at our boat
Till we started to float
An they were all dead in the morning”

Eight-year old Finn lives with his Pa, his older sister Alice and his younger sister Daisy on a small island entirely surrounded by water. He knows know other life.

Pa’s stories and songs tell of a great flood that drowned everyone else in the world. The family survives thanks to the ark that Pa built, where they now live.

Thirteen-year old Alice has memories of her dead mother and life before the flood. She is beginning to question Pa and sees holes in his stories.

In the opening half of the book, Pa and Finn share the narration. Pa is a tyrant, set on preserving the paradise in which he is raising his children. Finn trusts his father completely and submits to the authority almost entirely. His innocence is emphasised by the phonetic spelling of his chapters.

Then a young man, Will, is washed up in the shore. Have others survived? Just how much truth is there is Pa’s stories?

Finn’s voice is replaced by Alice who is determined to find answers. But Pa is still determined to make sure that their world does not change.

The plot is cleverly constructed and we gradually learn the truth about the family’s past and why Pa feels so threatened by Will’s arrival.

This is a strange and compelling story, told by three clear and distinct voices. It starts slowly but becomes more and more gripping.

The prose is lovely and paints wonderful pictures of the family’s island paradise.

It isn’t flawless – Finn’s phonetics were irksome and, for me at least, the emotions didn’t quite engage – but it never fails to hold the interest.

Sam Taylor has aimed high and he has largely succeeded.

4 responses

  1. Pingback: Saturday Review of Books: March 14, 2009 at Semicolon

  2. Pingback: The Pub (2009) » Blog Archive » March and April ‘09 Reviews

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