Friday, October 15, 2010

X Isle

X-IsleX Isle by Steve Augarde 
New York, David Fickling Books, 2009
ISBN: 9780385751933
478 pages
3.5 out of 5

In the fight for survival, anything goes.

The floods have come.  Some are lucky to be alive.  Though they might not count themselves lucky.  In the aftermath of global devastation, those left barely survive, living in fear and near starvation.  They have lost everything, including their future.

But there is one way out: a boat to X-Isle.

And Baz is about to take it.

A hard-hitting novel set in a world where there are no boundaries, and normality is just a word.

This is one of many in the genre of dystopian apocalyptic young adult fiction titles out there. I like the title.  I like the story.  I love the cover.

After storms of biblical proportions, the world Baz knew (the world we all know) is drowned, leaving millions dead and drastically shrinking available land and resources.  Boys on the mainland want nothing more than to catch passage to X-Isle, where food is guaranteed in return for a hard work.  Grocery stores are submerged and luckily for the survivors, Preacher John and his sons had their diving equipment during an inland trip before the storms.  Survival is the name of the game on the mainland and it's no different on X-Isle.  The group of boys work six days a week at the hands of the nasty capos to keep Preacher John's operation running. 

There are eight boys working for Preacher John. Usually when there's such a large cast of characters maybe four or five take center stage and the others remain underdeveloped extras.  But these boys each have a distinct personality, belief system, and voice. 

One hurdle I will mention is the language.  This is an American debut of a British novel and much of the language is still very British.  "Tins" of food are traded for other items and it took me a while to equate tin with the canned goods I'm familiar with instead of something like a sardine can.  Even so, the language definitely makes the setting and helps to set  a tone.

This is a lengthy title, coming close to 500 pages.  For a time I thought this book might never end.  That's not to imply that I was tired of it or not enjoying it, just that the build-up is measured and precise.  I simultaneously felt it was worth it and let down.  Even after 478 pages, I wanted just a bit more. 

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