Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Girl at the Center of the World by Austin Aslan

Title: The Girl at the Center of the World
Author: Austin Aslan
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian 
Series: Islands at the End of the World #2

Hardcover, 352 pages
Publication: August 4, 2015 by Wendy Lamb Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. 

As sixteen-year-old Leilani and her family learn to live without electronics, farming the land as her ancestors did, she finds strength in her relatives, her friendships, and her strange connection to the Emerald Orchid--the force whose presence caused global devastation--but suffers regret over what she must do to survive.

Aslan hits another home run with The Girl at the Center of the World, the final installment in his dystopian thriller of a sixteen-year-old Hawaiian girl trying to save her family and the entire world. The Girl at the Center of the World picks up approximately three months after the first book. Leilani and her family are trying their best to survive in this post-apocalyptic world without technology. Any semblance of their prior lives is long gone, as they have to learn to farm for most of their food, barter for other necessities, and just basically survive from day-to-day because there’s no more laws or order. Gangs/Tribes run rampant in the streets, controlling areas of Hawaii or people self electing themselves as judge, jury and executioner.

In the first book, readers got to glimpse life before and during the apocalypse but now we’re experiencing the aftermath and it’s just as terrifying as you’d think. Leilani and her father thought it would be safer in the rural area of Hilo, away from the big cities but it was far from it. Aslan painted a vivid image of despair and chaos with people being attacked, stores looted…just a grim idea of what the world would look like if technology was taken out of the equation. Society as a whole would start to crumble, with the police unable to protect the citizens and hospitals unable to heal. It’s scary how plausible it is, especially since societies nowadays are so dependent on technology for every single thing.

While the first book mainly focused on Leilani and her father Mike, which I didn’t mind at all. I was happy to see more characters entering the mix. Many of whom, made a brief appearance in the first book, like Lelani’s family and friends. Aslan sort of stepped away from the mysteries of the Emerald Orchid and spotlighted the relationships between Leilani, her family, and friends. I liked that even though the world is a terrible place, the characters had moments where they didn’t have to worry about saving the world or defending their turf…and just enjoyed each other company. For example when they celebrated Leilani’s birthday or when the girls wondered if the boy she liked, liked her back. It’s good to know they haven’t forgotten life’s simple pleasures. But that doesn’t mean everything was dandy. Leilani learned that she wasn’t just tied to the Emerald Orchid but had the ability to control some aspect of the living cloud. That knowledge was the key to helping mankind, and a knowledge that people would kill for to control.

If you enjoyed Island at the End of the World, you’re going to love the sequel. It had all the elements of the first book and so much more. There’s nonstop action, realistic character development and relationships, and Leilani is just as strong and kick-butt as ever. And if you haven’t read this series yet, you seriously need to get on it. This duology is one of the best young-adult dystopian series I’ve read in the long time!

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