Allegra Goodman, “The Other Side of the Island”

You know I love a good dystopia story, and this one is a cross between “The Giver” and “Brave New World,” with a dash of “Lost” thrown in for good measure.

The story follows Honor, a young girl who is just trying to fit in the not-so-distant future in the society built by Earth Mother and her Corporation. The book hints at a worldwide flood and chaos and war that ensued, tampered only by a Corporation that built an enclosure—a ceiling replacing the lost ozone layer—to protect citizens of earth. The weather and society are highly regulated, but there are dissidents, led by the Forecaster, who are likely to become disappeared if discovered.

Published: September 2008, 88 pp.
Obtained via: Free table at work
Date started: 4.14.08
Date finished: 4.17.08
What I liked: Goodman created an intriguing world with conflicts that play to modern concerns such as the environment. I think kids might identify with this story more than they would, say, “Brave New World.”
What I didn’t like: For all the great scene-setting and world-building there is, this book lacks emotional triggers. The main character disses her best friend when he becomes an orphan, but later on, there’s absolutely no payback or even a mention of how snobby she was acting. Maybe this was intentional—along with the clinical phrasing; everything is in simple, declarative sentences—to reflect how sanitized the society is. Also, because of the scenario, the book at times comes off as anti-environmentalist.
What I learned: Don’t try to ceil the earth. And that the scariest thing for an American is the loss of self-determination.


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