Title: The Islands at the End of the World
Author: Austin Aslan
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books/Random House
Pub. Date: August 5, 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Rec. Age Level: 13+
More by this author: N/A
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In her heart, sixteen-year old Leilani feels like she belongs in Hawaii, but her epilepsy and mixed heritage prevent her from ever fitting in. When she's is invited to participate in a study in an Oahu clinic that may give her more control over her epilepsy, she decides it's worth the risks. But Leilani never gets the chance to try the new treatment - a global disaster strikes, leaving the Hawaiian islands without any connection to the rest of the world. Leilani and her father are stranded on Oahu where resources are quickly being drained and panic is taking hold. Determined to make it back to their home on Hilo, Leilani and her father embark on a dangerous journey in which Hawaiian culture, mythology, and Leilani's epilepsy all play crucial roles.
Austin Aslan's debut had me completely transfixed. It was cinematic, with all the elements that I love about those big apocalyptic movies, like The Day After Tomorrow, but still felt fresh and unique because of the Hawaiian setting and undeniably better world building and detail. Simply put, this book has the fast pacing and crazy what ifs you love about those end-of-the-world movies plus a compelling back story and well developed characters.
One of my favorite aspects of this book was the focus on the father-daughter relationship. The list of notable - or even memorable - literary YA parents is woefully short, so I count every addition as a win. Leilani's father isn't perfect but that just made him more realistic. He makes some interesting parenting choices after things get crazy (which, for the record, I was totally okay with and rather amused by). He and Leilani have a strong relationship built on respect and trust, which I loved.
I highly recommend Aslan's debut and am very much looking forward to seeing what happens next... I have a feeling that the situation has the potential to get a lot more complicated in the next book!